If you haven’t heard about it yet, Solana Labs recently announced one of their boldest projects to date: a mobile software platform called Solana Mobile Stack (SMS). If that wasn’t exciting enough, they are also releasing a smartphone called Saga. This move is a natural but still major evolution of the Web3 ecosystem.
In this article, you will learn what the Solana Mobile Stack (SMS) represents and how it will impact Web3 as a whole.
Before diving into this disruptive mobile stack project from Solana, it is crucial to understand where the necessity for a Web3 mobile software came from in the first place. For a while now, developers that wish to create mobile applications for Web 3 face major issues due to the way this industry is currently structured. That is because the mobile app industry is an oligopoly formed by Google and Apple. But how does this structure make it especially hard for Web3 apps to thrive?
As explained by Tavio Pungas, Co-founder and VP Product of NFTport, in addition to the core features, a developer creating a mobile app must consider three factors: distribution, payment, and identity. Without these three, even the best app won’t succeed. The same is true for Web3 apps. So, let’s break down these three factors to understand why oligopoly is problematic for Web3 and decentralization in general.
When a developer creates a mainstream consumer app, they need to make it available for users. Considering that the desktop is mostly a work tool nowadays, to achieve mass adoption it will need to be on mobile devices. In addition, the rarity of sideloads makes being on App Store and /or Play Store almost a necessity. The problem is that these platforms are highly moderated and often are not the friendliest with apps focused on blockchain, crypto, NFTs, and so on. But the problems don’t stop there.
This oligopoly highly affects payments. For starters, the lack of competition allows Google/Apple to take a baffling 30% of every dollar spent on applications. Some projects can’t afford to pay such fees. For example, when it comes to NFTs, the fees must be competitive to attract buyers and sellers. In that context, a 30% fee is beyond excessive since most of these platforms usually charge a fee of 1% to 3%.
In addition, the payment methods imposed by Apple and Google only allow the use of credit cards. It is hard to integrate crypto payments without getting red-flagged or banned. On top of that, if you integrate your credit card payment into the app, you still face another Oligopoly: Visa, Mastercard, and their few competitors. Web3 tends to ring an alarm in the compliance departments of these payment providers, resulting in many apps being blocked from their services.
Let’s say the app manages to go through all these obstacles. Still, the whole process can really affect the UX experience of the app. This can make using Web3 mobile apps such a struggle that it is ultimately not worth it. If it is easier to access it on a desktop, the mass adoption of the technology will be a struggle.
It is about time that truly decentralized mobile apps break this oligopoly structure limiting innovation. In each step presented, having a decentralized, Web3-friendly mobile app platform could open space for a better and fairer experience for developers and users.
When it comes to distribution on mobile devices, apps would have their own platform to build a different app store without the one-sided mediation. While this could bring more scams, it would also bring more innovation and freedom.
When it comes to payments, a decentralized platform would support on-chain payment without abusive fees. It would become cheaper for users and developers. Using crypto payments would become easier and users would be able to use the apps without getting payments blocked by app platforms or payment providers.
Finally, in identity, an app platform built with Web3 in mind would result in a smooth UX experience for users. Logins could be even easier than on a desktop. It could also take into consideration the secure storage Web3 users need, instead of custodial logins.
That is why the newest project of Solana, Solana Mobile Stack, is so disruptive and necessary. But what is it exactly?
Solana Mobile Stack is a decentralized mobile platform created by Solana Labs. The Solana Mobile Stack software kit will offer tools for developing native Android devices and a decentralized app store and secure payment methods. The project aims to allow Web3 to fully explore the potential of mobile.
So, let’s better understand each feature that the Solana Mobile Stack is introducing to the mobile market:
Probably the most expected feature that Solana Mobile Stack is introducing is Solana dApp Store, which is a decentralized app store for Android. The introduction of this platform means that developers and users now have access to a whole new distribution system for decentralized apps on Android. This allows them to escape the limitations of the current oligopoly structure of this market.
As a decentralized app store, it also does not charge the abusive fees that App Store and Play Store do. Thus, it makes it easier for developers (Web3 or not) to build profitable apps. Overall, Solana dApp Store will allow Web3 apps, which are now constantly limited and censored, to finally have a space on the mobile device market.
Solana Mobile Stack includes a Seed Vault, a secure custody protocol shaped for mobile. This feature facilitates transactions while keeping secure key private storage independent from wallet apps, and the Android operating system overall. This way, users can ensure secure instant transactions on Web3 with their phones.
In addition, Solana Mobile Stack provides other features such as Mobile Wallet Adapter, integrated payment capabilities, and tools to build decentralized wallet apps. All of those will also help build a Web3-friendly ecosystem on the mobile market.
Along with the announcement of Solana Mobile Stack, Solana Labs also shared their upcoming smartphone Saga. It will be a high-quality Android phone powered by the Solana Mobile Stack system. The mobile device launch is predicted for Q1 2023 and will be fully integrated with Solana blockchain, Seed Vault, and a Secure Element. This will make it even easier for users to make easy and secure transactions and manage their assets on Web3. Saga is designed by OSOM, a leading Android development company.
Now that Solana Mobile Stack was introduced, how can it benefit the Web3 ecosystem? Well, as previously explained, Web3 has been facing major issues to join the mobile market. The current oligopoly structure of the market dominated by Google and Apple limits developers to introduce Web3 apps. This results in users not being able to access this ecosystem from their mobile.
With Solana Mobile Stack, developers are finally able to create mobile apps that integrate with the Web3 ecosystem in a safe, smooth, and optimized way. The decentralized nature of Solana Mobile Stack is making censorship and payment limitations on the mobile app market a thing of the past. This will mostly represent a good change, but it can initially open space for more scams to surge, so be careful with those. Going back to the good things, the new Solana dApp Store does not charge the abusive fees that its centralized counterparts do, allowing Web3 apps (and others) to find profitability in the mobile sphere. All that, while preserving a pleasant and easy-to-navigate UX.
Thus, the benefits that Solana Mobile Stack can bring to Web3 are limitless and blockchain will finally have its space in our smartphones. As mentioned, being accessible to mobile platforms is key to mass adoption. Thus, this major step introduced by Solana Labs is turning the key for Web3 to achieve its potential of mass adoption.
Learn more about Solana Mobile Stack here.
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Please note that none of this is to be considered financial nor investment advice. We highly advise you to always do your own research (’DYOR’) before interacting with any of the projects or tools we write about. Crypto is a highly dynamic and fast paced environment with lots of moving parts that can quickly change.