The iPhone 14 launch may not have been, well, much of an “iPhone Moment.” Its impact has been negligible so far. But it could mark a turning point for the “People’s Internet” revolution being attempted by blockchain projects like Helium (HNT-USD)… Due to the technology that’s now inside the iPhone.
Or, should I say, NOT inside the iPhone.
See, the iPhone 14 is Apple’s (NASDAQ:AAPL) first to be built with no physical SIM card.
“If you purchased an iPhone 14 model in the United States, your iPhone activates with an eSIM,” as Apple Support explains. “… With eSIM Carrier Activation, your carrier assigns an eSIM to your iPhone when you purchase it. With eSIM Quick Transfer, you transfer the SIM from your previous iPhone to your new iPhone without contacting your carrier.”
Activate without contacting your carrier. This is the attention grabber for blockchain and Web 3.0 analysts, like the ones at Messari – who are out this week with a new report on “The Telecom Cowboys of the Decentralized Wireless Movement.”
Because eSIM lets you connect your phone to a new network by, say, scanning a QR code, “This is a significant development for [decentralized wireless] cellular networks because it reduces carrier switching costs to near-zero,” the Messari analyst writes. “Additionally, since the iPhone 14 has 6 eSIM slots, users can install a DeWi eSIM in addition to their existing traditional carrier’s eSIM, and utilize both cellular networks.”
eSIM is about more than Apple, of course. You can do this with plenty of Android phones, too, like the Samsung Galaxy and Google Pixel models.
In 2019, Helium was the first decentralized wireless project to come on the scene, with a LoRaWAN network designed for internet of things (smart beer kegs.) devices. Think smart homes and offices… environmental sensors… GPS trackers, personal safety devices… And even
But a couple months ago, Helium kicked off its “Cellular Summer” with the launch of Helium 5G Hotspots for your smartphone.
Today, Helium counts 6,500 5G hotspots – and nearly a million IOT hotspots – in its network, for one simple reason: By sharing your connectivity on Helium, you earn crypto in return.
As the project that got The New York Times to say “Maybe There’s a Use for Crypto After All”… Helium has attracted plenty of venture capital. In March, its creators at Nova Labs secured another $200 million in its Series D round from Andreessen Horowitz (a16z), Tiger Global, Pantera Capital and the like.
Of course, Helium has its skeptics and trolls, too. A viral tweet from July pointed out that – for all its multi-millions in venture capital – Helium was bringing in just $6,500 a month in actual revenues. This is a problem for all those people who “spent $400-800 to buy a hotspot”… Only to see their crypto rewards dry up in the bear market.
Helium’s founder, Amir Haleem, felt compelled to take to Twitter himself and provide corrections and context.
“Why is there only $6,500 worth of data being paid for?” Haleem wrote in his response in July. “Unlike cellular networks, there aren’t millions of existing devices that can switch to @Helium.”
Well, now with the iPhone 14 (and latest Galaxy and Pixel models), there probably will be.
It just may take some time for people to want to upgrade – with most of us just trying to stay on top of soaring grocery, gas and utility bills… And for investors to come around and make DeWi cryptos great again.
Other DeWi Crypto Projects
In the meantime, there are several other cool DeWi projects in the works now. 5G cellular networks powered by blockchain include:
- Helium 5G;
- Pollen Mobile (PCN-USD), which also featured heavily in Messari’s report Monday;
- And XNET, which aims to bring you SMS, e911 and voice features as well as data connectivity.
If you’re interested in decentralized Wi-Fi, too, then “WayRu (WRU-USD) and WiFi Dabba are two early-stage projects building in this category,” Messari notes.
WiFi Dabba is building on the Helium network, which in turn operates on the Solana (SOL-USD) blockchain, along with Pollen Mobile. WayRu is building its blockchain WiFi service on Algorand (ALGO-USD). Maybe there is a use for crypto, indeed.
On the date of publication, Ashley Cassell did not have (either directly or indirectly) any positions in the securities mentioned in this article. The opinions expressed in this article are those of the writer, subject to the InvestorPlace.com Publishing Guidelines.