The Nothing (1) Phone has reached a major milestone: posting on Twitter, founder Carl Pei announced that the number of pre-order interest registrations has exceeded 100,000.
That's a lot of pre-order interest requests for a phone from a firm with no track record, and it should have other Android manufacturers worried – because these requests are being placed despite there being very little official information about the device available right now.
Part of it is hype, for sure: Nothing's doing a great job of stoking interest in the device, and I've definitely played my part in that. But I think it also points to something bigger.
Even the best Android phones are boring in my opinion in 2022. And as much as I'm an iPhone fan, they're pretty boring, too: the iPhone 14 is hardly a radical departure, and some of its best features are things we've already seen in Android devices. The best phones are increasingly indistinguishable from each other.
Can Nothing change that?
Phone (1) looks great, but we've been burned before
The problem with tech hype is that it's a very fine line to walk. Not enough hype and you don't get enough interest, which of course translates into not enough sales. And with the Nothing ecosystem plans, the Nothing (1) Phone needs to sell in decent numbers in order for there to be an ecosystem. But if you turn the hype up too much, you can end up with your celebratory balloons turning into whoopee cushions if the product isn't as exciting as you'd led people to believe.
I'm wary, because we've been burned before. At the turn of the century, and I'm aware that makes me sound really old, we were told that a secret invention called Project Ginger would change the world. Apple's Steve Jobs said it was going to be more important than the personal computer; others said that we would redesign cities around it. It turned out to be the Segway personal scooter, which was pretty good at hurling people off cliffs and moving mall cops around but not so great at the whole changing the world thing – although to be fair it did pave the way for today's powered skateboards and one-wheel transporters.
I genuinely hope that the Nothing (1) Phone is brilliant, and that it does something unexpected and most of all, interesting. Because interesting tech benefits everybody, not just the early adopters: good ideas spread. And even if the Nothing (1) Phone turns out to be a little less exciting than we're hoping, Carl Pei deserves credit for making phones exciting again.