Carl Pei Want to Bring a Nothing Phone to the U.S.

The CEO behind the hyped LED-backed Android phone said he would like to launch some kind of smartphone in North America.

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A Phone (1) standing amongst a white background
Nothing’s Phone (1) was hyped up earlier this year thanks to its unique design and transparent back plate, but U.S. consumers have so far only been able to import the device.
Image: Nothing

The jokes really write themselves as far as the fledgling phone company Nothing is concerned. So far, the famed maker of the LED-backed Phone has kept up in the European, Middle Eastern, and Asian markets and has had nothing to show for the U.S. or Canada, at least as far as its phone business is concerned. Now, the company said consumers on the other side of the Atlantic may get to see if all the hype was real... or a whole lot of nothing.

I’ll stop.

Carl Pei, the founder and CEO of the UK-based company, Nothing, told CNBC that his company now finally has aims to bring its phone designs to North America. Nothing is behind the Phone (1), more commonly just called “The Nothing Phone,” a mid-ranged phone that’s biggest claim to fame is a see-through back panel with inset glowing LED lights.

Pei got his start as a co-founder of phone maker OnePlus before striking out on his own. Of course, trying to market and sell phones on your own is a lot harder than most realize, as companies like Apple and Samsung have crowded the field. He told CNBC that launching in the U.S. requires “a lot of additional technical support,” especially regarding getting support from carrier companies. The CEO said his company is still hashing out the details with carriers, but did not mention which companies those might be.

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Pei did not specifically mention the Phone (1), instead mentioning a “future product.” The vagueness of the statements could mean a future updated smartphone—perhaps a Phone (2), if you will—but it could just be a rebranded or updated version of Nothing’s first release, which came out this July.

Gizmodo’s review of Nothing’s Phone (1) was limited by the fact that the device did not work well on major networks in the U.S. As far as its hardware goes, our reviewer noted Nothing’s premier phone was decidedly mid-range and best for folks who are really, really bored with the current Android ecosystem. The company tried to pack in premium features to make it stand out from other mid-range phones, including a flexible display, wireless charging, and face scanning for unlocking the device.

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But Nothing has depended on buzz and a guerilla marketing campaign to get the word out about its phone. Since the Phone (1)’s initial release, the company has remained pretty quiet in the phone space, which might be a dangerous proposition for a nascent phone maker trying to take on giants like Samsung or Apple.

In October, Nothing released its Ear (stick) earbuds, a product that Pei mentioned had become a hot item in the U.S. Still, the company is relying on venture funding as it tries to get through growing pains of being a new business in a global market. CNBC reported the company has gone from $20 million to $250 million from 2021 to 2022, but Pei told the outlet he hopes his company becomes profitable by 2024.

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Pei noted that Apple’s moving toward excessive dominance in the phone market especially with apps like iMessage and AirDrop, noting “there might be a time where Apple is like 80% of the overall market.” He also revealed that his company attempted to secure Foxconn as a manufacturer, but was denied. Foxconn is the world’s biggest manufacturer of iPhones, and recent Chinese protests have caused problems for both Apple and Foxconn.