Ready for a blockchain smartphone future? Why the world needs Zippie

Carsten Munk
May 31, 2018 · 8 min read

At the end of 2006, just 6 months before the launch of the first iPhone, fewer than 20 million people on the planet owned a smartphone. If you take a look at the smartphones of the times, this should come as no surprise: the handsets were clunky, had limited software and weren’t much fun to use. Today, the situation with cryptocurrencies and decentralized apps is similar. Both things exist, but are hardly a joy to use on the go, and are poorly suited for existing smartphones. We aim to change this by turning our phones into blockchain powerhouses. What’s more, we believe the entire world will benefit. Here’s why.

1. Users can take back control with the Blockchain

Many of the 4 billion smartphone plans currently in use belong to people in relatively non-affluent places where PCs never caught on. Yet mobile apps and internet platforms come with tradeoffs in privacy and security. As we’ve seen recently, personal data is at a constant risk of leaking. Nobody knows what the historical record of our age is going to be like, as companies hosting photos, videos and e-mail archives may disappear over time.

Luckily, the Ethereum platform brings together the building blocks for interactive, decentralized apps and immutable records. Just like the personal computer of the early eighties, the race is now about making this concept inviting enough for mass adoption.

2. The phone can make users money

The ad industry, tech companies and the judicial system report highly conflicting numbers for the value of user data. Advertisers pay fractions of cents per unit in the case of large batches of user accounts, big tech company acquisitions hint at several dozens of dollars per user. Damages paid by Comcast for leaks have clocked at a hundred dollars per user.

Talk about disparate valuations. What if we could truly let the market decide, and let users control what data is being sold and at what price? With the phone as an undisputed source of interesting user data to mine, Zippie may soon empower individuals to find out what kind of money extremely niche interests will be willing to pay for data from super specific demographics.

The Zippie Card is used to confirm large transactions on the Zippie OS

3. The world could use a break from Silicon Valley values

We absolutely wouldn’t be here without the smart and hard-working people in the US West Coast tech scene. But as is typical for human cultures, communities become more than the sums of their parts, for better and worse. For all of the disruption and innovation tech produces, there’s also a lot of displacement and dangerous centralization caused by centralized tech culture. As a matter of fact, Silicon Valley’s workforce is now shrinking, likely due to extreme housing costs.

Luckily, public discourse appears to have finally caught up with what the tech industry has been up to since the dotcom bubble of the early 00s. Which is to say that free content and services have cost us our privacy.

But instead of the pendulum swinging us back to some golden age that never existed, we want to remold that pendulum into a propeller. Decentralized tech is all about enabling new concepts and ideas from people of diverse backgrounds and with varying access to traditional sources of capital. A propeller won’t take us to the moon, or outside the earth’s atmosphere, but it will certainly enable a 10 000 foot view of all the hardware and resources the tech industry has dreamt up.

4. Censorship, geopolitics and vested interests are slowly balkanizing the internet

The way certain countries in all hemispheres are trying to strangle the internet is tragic and terrifying.

Some big countries create their own enclosed version of the consumer internet, even at the cost of fast global connectivity.

Other governments are jeopardizing the free flow of knowledge and the internal market for online services by deregulating internet service providers and maiming network neutrality, the principle that the internet is a utility infrastructure, through which all information should flow equally.

Numerous nation states are adding to the potentially devastating effect of online snooping by powering government machineries that aim to catalog as much internet use as possible.

This is why the tech industry needs to fight back, by disempowering traditional internet companies by building services on a peer-to-peer basis. Offering financial incentives, with mechanisms like cryptocurrencies and tokens, form one promising approach. This is also why internet traffic and data at rest should be universally encrypted, ambiguous and hard to analyze.

By building a platform to run decentralized applications, Zippie is very much part of this movement.

5. We’re reshaping existing platforms and operating systems

Google provides its free and open smartphone operating system, Android, under certain conditions. This is nice in lots of ways, like really affordable smartphones, but Android manufacturers have a hard time adding value. This has resulted in an atrocious track record in matters such as providing long-term security updates, but Android as a phenomenon has brought the light of internet access to millions, for unbeatable prices.

Apple makes their products shine with extraordinary profit margins and provides a smooth, well supported golden cage that few of the companies’ customers want to escape. Good for Apple, but there’s not much the community can do there.

On the desktop, Chromium-based browsers like Google Chrome rule the world. The browser isn’t an operating system, but it’s an interactive environment that executes code, to the extent that traditional apps are sometimes replaced. Specially packaged versions of Chromium also invisibly power numerous popular desktop applications like Slack and Spotify.

Zippie aims to make decentralization the sharpest new tool in the personal computing toolbox. Our product does this by working with what the world already uses. Firstly, browsers. Secondly, we’re working with phone manufacturers by adding a layer parallel to the Android operating system to assist Zippie in providing deeper security, which is possible thanks to Linux as a common denominator.

6. We make encryption as easy as posting to Instagram

A handful of centralized companies control a shockingly large share of the internet: Many people know that both developers and shoppers love Amazon and that Google gives away everything from search to office tools. But unbeknownst to most, invisible infrastructure companies like Akamai and Cloudflare sift through at least a third of all web traffic combined.

It would be inadvisable to let these companies take further control over something as increasingly important as proving people’s identities. But at Zippie, we’re building the resources to both circumvent all the giants we mentioned, and to build identity controls that we’ll never own in the sense that Google probably owns your email.

The fact of the matter is that identity management has a lot to do with handling encryption in a friendly manner, and we can put this capability in the pockets of potentially hundreds of millions of smartphone users. We’re doing so using an onboarding process that makes the groundwork for advanced cryptography even more effortless than setting up any smartphone.

Zippie’s platform takes what’s already available and works within accepted risk management concepts, such as password managers on the desktop platforms. Containerization on our Zippie-enabled mobile platforms borrow techniques used for enterprise grade server Linux server solutions

7. We put the wallet back in the user’s pocket

Google’s Play Store now distributes over 3.5 million apps and it’s no great secret that many of these play fast and loose with private user data.

Smartphone users around the world are getting used to the luxury experience of mobile payment systems such as Android Pay and specialized hardware wallets are not suitable for individuals on the go. Regular wallet apps don’t cut it for high-stakes savings because of the potential compromise through a malicious app.

Linux, which Android is based on, gives integration and containerization we can use. These tools make Zippie-enabled smartphones a powerful product: a hardware wallet in a device most people in industrialized countries already carry on their person.

It’s unclear to what degree decentralized technology will fundamentally change the global economy. But if we do well, the decentralized economy will generate as much or more opportunity than basic mobile banking brought to several developing economies. We’re simply building the operating system for this new breed of online services.

8. Zippie can empower people who need robust compartmentalization of identities

Everyone is affected by massive data leaks, like the very nature of Facebook and the Equifax fiasco of 2017. But technology can be fundamentally dangerous for the same, previously fragmented communities it allows to widely connect. From political dissidents to LGBTQ+ communities, current governance and centralized technology offers little to no refuge from metadata leakage, which can be life threatening in oppressive environments.

By building a platform that compartmentalizes different kinds of applications, we may in the future enable people who need both privacy and reputation management in the ways they express themselves.

Imagine being able to manage all of your public and private personas in different wallets, safeguarded by strong cryptography, without middlemen.

9. We let smartphone manufacturers reinvent themselves

As we stated above, smartphone manufacturers that aren’t Californian fruit companies are offered very little opportunity to differentiate themselves. Google is largely eliminating any opportunity to develop good software ecosystems by adding services such as identity and software distribution on the free Android platform. The big exception is markets like China, where Google has lost control of the platform it’s giving away for free.

Blacture powered by the Zippie OS

But for Western and non-Western markets alike, both phone users and manufacturers are are handing over control of the software ecosystem and central services like email, messaging and calendars to centralized giants.

Zippie offers to change all of this. First, phone manufacturers that actively work with us are paving the road to a more diverse market situation. The particularly creative manufacturers will make it easy to develop and customize phones, in ways that make them attractive to developers and high-end users, without removing compatibility with popular services people still need from companies like Google and Yandex. It’s an exciting possibility for both manufacturers and everyone who craves ever greater smartphone variety.

So, there you have it, a walkthrough of why we think the world needs Zippie and why we’re so excited to take on the challenge. We’d love to hear you thoughts, regardless of whether you agree or not.

To keep up to date with Zippie follow us on Twitter, Telegram and Reddit.


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Carsten Munk

Written by

CTO @ Zippie



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