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Forward-looking: London-based consumer electronics startup Nothing is looking to bring its smartphone prowess to the US. Founder Carl Pei, who helped launch Chinese smartphone maker OnePlus, told CNBC that his company has held preliminary conversations with select US wireless carriers about launching a phone stateside. Pei did not name-drop anyone but presumably, Nothing is talking with at least a couple of the nation's biggest players.
Nothing launched its first smartphone, the Phone (1), back in July but only in Asia, the Middle East and Europe. Other major markets like Canada and the US were not included in the launch. According to CNBC, Nothing has shipped 500,000 smartphones and 600,000 pairs of its Ear (1) earbuds to date.
Pei told the publication they didn't launch their first smartphone in the US due to all of the additional technical support needed, like adding unique carrier customizations on top of Android. "We felt that we weren't ready before," Pei added.
The company's latest product, a lower-tier version of the Ear (1) called the Ear (stick), dropped on November 4 priced at $99. According to Pei, one-third of all (stick) sales are currently coming from the US.
"It's definitely a market where there's already a lot of interest for our products," Pei said, added that if they launch smartphones there, he's certain they could achieve significant growth.
Gaining meaningful market share in a saturated region already dominated by heavyweights like Apple and Samsung won't be easy, but it is not impossible. A truly innovative offering could go a long way in helping Nothing establish its presence in the US. Foldables are as close to something new as we have seen in the smartphone industry in years but their reception has been lukewarm at best.
The global smartphone market slid nine percent in the third quarter, largely due to consumers tightening their budgets in the face of ongoing economic uncertainty. It is anyone's guess what the economy will look like by the time Nothing gets its duck in a row for a US launch but it'll no doubt impact things one way or the other.