In an interview with Bloomberg, Carl Pei revealed the first product that Nothing will be bringing to market later this year… wireless earbuds.
Wait, is he serious?
All companies need to start somewhere, but I don’t think any of us were expecting Carl Pei to leave OnePlus, one of the most respected smartphone brands on the market, to start a new company to build wireless earbuds. Sure, Apple’s AirPods have been a massive success, but they’re now a commodity product that you can pick up from discount retailers for $30. Going through my inbox from just this past week, I have seven emails from PR companies announcing new wireless earbuds.
A chart shared by Bloomberg shows that Apple has a commanding lead with a dominating 35% of the market share in the category with Xiaomi and Samsung taking second and third place with a 10% and 6% share. Sure, there’s room for another big player to step in and scoop up a big chunk of the market, but it’s doubtful that a new company like Nothing will be able to pull it off when companies like Sony and Bose aren’t even in the top 5.
To be fair, wireless earbuds aren’t Nothing’s only play. According to Pei, Nothing is “building an ecosystem of smart devices.” The product portfolio will eventually expand from “simpler products, wireless earbuds. We’re going to have multiple products throughout the year, not just audio products, and eventually we want to build it so these devices talk to each other.”
Based on what Pei shared in the interview, there’s no indication that Nothing has any plans to release a smartphone. While this may come as a disappointment to Android enthusiasts, Nothing was able to secure $15 million in funding from GV (formerly Google Ventures). The valuation of the company has not been shared, but it’s clear that GV believes there’s a potential upside to Nothing’s strategy, at least in the long term.
“We have high confidence that with Carl’s global mindset, the Nothing team will have a meaningful impact on the market for consumer technology.” – Tom Hulme, General Partner at GV
With so many wireless earbuds and connected devices on the market, I don’t see how Nothing will be able to make a big splash like OnePlus did when the brand launched. Like any other startup, it will take years for Nothing to build brand recognition among general consumers with commodity products. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, it’s just not what many of us were expecting from Carl Pei’s new venture.