Carl Pay, co-founder of OnePlus, which split from the company last year, announced the name of its next venture: Nothing. He describes himself as a “London-based consumer technology company” and considers iPod inventor Tony Fadel, Twitch co-founder Kevin Lynn, Reddit CEO Steve Huffman and YouTuber Casey Neistat as investors. It plans to launch its first “smart devices” in the first half of this year.
“Nothing’s mission is to remove barriers between people and technology to create a seamless digital future,” said Pei, founder and CEO of Nothing, in a press release. “We believe that the best technology is beautiful, but at the same time natural and intuitive to use. When he is advanced enough, he should disappear into the background and feel like nothing. “
What is unclear at the moment is exactly what products Nothing is planning to release. In an interview with On the edge Prior to today’s announcement, Pei declined to give specific details on what form the first “smart devices” of Nothing will take. He also declined to say which companies Nothing plans to compete with.
However, Pei confirms that Nothing plans to launch products in multiple categories with the ultimate goal of building an ecosystem of devices.
“Right now … the team is being built, so we want to focus on simpler categories,” says Pei, “but as our team acquires abilities and skills, we want to start moving up.” The ultimate vision is to connect everything seamlessly, which can only happen when you have several product categories that are connected. “
During Pei’s tenure at OnePlus, the company released everything from smartphones to headphones and even TVs. Last year, Cable announced that Pei ‘s new company could focus on music and could include production headphones. When asked, Pei declined to confirm whether the headphones would be among Nothing’s early products. Asked by Cable, he said the company’s plans are “much more than that.”
Although it is speculated that this could lead to Nothing to develop an accompanying music service, says Pei On the edge that Nothing plans to make most of its money by selling hardware, not software subscriptions, at least initially. “We haven’t spent too much time thinking about the software,” says Pay. “It definitely has to be a good user experience if you want to generate revenue from software.” In the long run, however, he acknowledges that “healthy business” requires both good hardware and good software.
Pei’s new company plans to differentiate itself by using “custom” components in its products from the outset. Pei suggests that this will prevent Nothing’s products from looking too much like their competitors. “There’s a reason many products on the market look pretty similar,” says Pay. “That’s because they share a lot of the same components and the same building blocks.”
In contrast, OnePlus phones have faced frequent criticism over the years for the similarities they share with Oppo phones. In a recent video, Marques Brownlee outlined a series of Oppo and OnePlus devices with strikingly similar hardware, such as the OnePlus 5 and Oppo R11, the OnePlus 6T and Oppo R17, and the OnePlus Nord N100 and Oppo A53. Both brands even use similar technologies for fast charging. OnePlus has Dash Charge and Oppo has VOOC.
While it is widely reported that OnePlus and Oppo exist under the same Chinese corporate giant BBK Electronics, Pei says nothing is unencumbered by such an agreement. “[Nothing is] a completely independent company owned by our founding team and our investors, ”says Pei, with her own R&D department. And although it uses contract manufacturers to build its devices, Pei says Nothing will simply “reassign products to someone else.”
But while Pei hopes that Nothing’s early products will feature a “differentiated” design without feeling “different to be different,” the potential hope is that they will fade into the background.
“I kind of imagine a lawn with people having a picnic and no screen, no laptop screen, no phone screen, no smartwatch screen, no billboard screen,” Pey muses. “It’s an extreme state.”
Verge columnist Walt Mosberg cited this future situation as ambitious calculations in 2017. Pay admits it could take 20 or 30 years to arrive, but says the future his company is looking for is one in which its technology looks like … well nothing.