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Carl Pei on Apple’s Past Designing the Future of Nothing

In the midst of Mobile World Congress 2022, I was able to attend a press roundtable with Qualcomm Europe President Enrico Salvatori and Carl Pey, co-founder and CEO of Nothing; looking forward to learning more about this latest relationship and the products or projects we can expect from the couple.

Contrary to the hopes and expectations of both the tech press and enthusiasts, intimate details of the long-rumored Nothing smartphone were not revealed at this particular meeting, with Pei saying little about it: “We don’t comment. future categories”.

However, TechCrunch later reported that Nothing It was apparently demonstrating a proof of concept behind (other) closed doors at the show, suggesting the phone might debut sooner rather than later.

Salvatori spent the first minutes of the 15-minute session praising Pei and his company, saying, “Carl has definitely become a dear partner to us with his new initiative. new areas and I’m very happy to be with him today.”

According to sources such as Forbes, the partnership Salvatori refers to was first announced last October, after the London-based startup received an additional $50 million in Series A funding; dedicated to product research and development.

The chipmaker’s involvement reportedly includes shipping Nothing with its Snapdragon hardware for use in “future products”, meaning mobile apps; which led many to speculate that a smartphone would be next on the cards. Less likely alternatives that could still emerge include XR devices – similar to Meta Quest headsets – or laptops running on the company’s connected mobile computing platform.

Unlike Qualcomm, which had numerous announcements at this year’s Barcelona show, Nothing remains an enigmatic entity in consumer technology. Even by Pei’s own admission, the silence on either side of the release of his debut product, last year’s Nothing Ear (1) true wireless headphones, was deafening.

“It’s great to be back!” He started. “I’ve been pretty quiet for the last year and a half, but I’m excited to be back…happy to start telling the world what we’re building here.”

Pei outlined the basis for his move into the tech market before voicing how he hopes Nothing will address the shortcomings consumers face based on the lackluster offerings offered by the biggest players today.

“Growing up, I was a real technology fanatic. I was one of the first kids in my school to have an iPod and I was the first with an iPhone; I was also the first kid I knew to buy an Android phone.”

Regarding the relationship between consumers and the industry right now, he explained, “I feel like the whole society is becoming more and more negative about technology. do people believe that technology can really make our lives better, as it was many years ago?”

“Ecosystem” seems to be at the heart of Pei’s game plan. While for some there are examples like Samsung and even Huawei, according to Pei, no one has built a product ecosystem as tightly knit as Apple.

“Apple has no alternative and I mean their ecosystem. So all of their products work well with each other… but if you look at a Windows PC and a pair of speakers from Sonos etc. you don’t have the same integration as the Apple ecosystem, so why can’t the market another option?”

He continued, “Personally, I think Apple is really strong with the integration of software and hardware… That’s what we’re trying to build, this product ecosystem and level of connectivity that just provides this level of experience: another choice.”

While it’s hard to see how Nothing’s approach will revitalize consumer interest in technology without being able to see a roadmap for this all-important ecosystem, it’s clear that Pei operates from a fairly proven and robust framework.

Even if it’s not the order Apple played in, the combination of a smartphone and a set of true wireless headphones makes the obvious first step in creating an ecosystem of consumer products. Beyond that, however, nothing is certain right now except the unforeseen.

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