Fresh out of phone hype, Nothing tries NFTs

With the Phone (1) launch days away, Nothing's announcement that it's getting into NFTs with "Nothing Community Dots" doesn't do much to dispel its cloud of hype.

Nothing is getting into non-fungible tokens. The company announced on Tuesday that early community investors will be the first to receive “Black Dot NFTs,” which will confer “exclusive benefits” to their owners, besides being collectible.

Hype machine — Perhaps I shouldn’t be surprised. Though their luster has certainly dulled since last year, NFTs and the larger “web3” ecosystem they’re a part of are the current hype-generator du jour for a certain kind of tech industry power player. Nothing is a fan of generating hype, and as more details have trickled out about the Phone (1) that might damper excitement like the fact it’ll be powered by Qualcomm’s mid-range Snapdragon 778G+ chip, the company is unveiling a new component of its plan that might get fans even more committed.

It’s just a shame that given all of the baggage that comes with NFTs, from the relative quality of the art associated with them to the numerous scams they’ve been a part of, Nothing has done next to nothing to explain the purpose of its new tokens.

Not quite a DAO? — Not to suggest that Nothing is scamming anyone, if anything taking up NFTs as a way of solidifying some notion of “community” makes sense. When Nothing announced its first round of community investment in 2021 it said it wanted community members to be a big part of the company. “As part of this process, we’ll also be electing a community member to our board of directors, so that we’re always kept in check, and reminded of what users want,” Nothing’s CEO and founder Carl Pei said.

In a weird way, it sounds like Nothing has backed its way into a DAO, or Decentralized Autonomous Organization, where token holders get voting rights, except Nothing’s community investors only get one voice on the board rather than being the whole company itself.

Of course, I can’t really claim this is a DAO either, because much like Nothing’s previous announcements, even if what it’s shared intrigues you, there aren’t a whole lot of details to go on here.

The best I can say about Nothing’s Black Dot NFT is it at least has a satisfying “plinky” sound.Nothing

Just launch a phone — If there’s any sin of Nothing, it’s the same thing that used to drive NFT auctions to ridiculous prices: unexplained hype. A lot of talk about community, vague notions of what was better in the past, and a promise that this time things could be different — if only you were involved.

For now, these NFTs are only for the Nothing-faithful, investors, and anyone who pre-orders the Phone (1), so it’s hard to say if selling JPEGs and MP4s is part of Nothing’s business going forward, but it is a convenient example of how the company works. All it needs to do is launch a good, affordable, cool-looking phone. It sounds like it might even do that! But in the meantime, we get the slow information trickle, blockchain-based flights of fancy, and endless hype cycles.

Carl Pei is clearly incredibly confident in what Nothing plans on offering and I’m sure complaining about NFTs and a lack of information sounds a lot like “feedback” he’s already received.

That doesn’t change the fact that people need to actually use his company’s products to determine whether they’re worth all of the bluster. I’m still excited about the Phone (1) — the launch is coming in just six short days — but until it arrives, everything else is just a distraction.