Cryptocurrency users are blessed with an increasing choice of hardware wallets. Ledger and Trezor, the two dominant players in the space, are facing competition from a number of new entrants. Ledger will soon be joined by a fellow French manufacturer in the form of Archos, a company best known for its audio accessories. Its Safe-T mini wallet will retail for $62.
Manufacturing consumer electronics is a cutthroat business. Competition is fierce, margins are slim, and product life cycles can be short. Last year’s must-have accessory is this year’s bargain bucket; just ask Snap how their video recording Spectacles are doing. Archos is a French company that’s been developing electronics for years, with a focus on portable media players. It also creates products ranging from drones to scooters and even has a range of smartphones. The Safe-T mini will be its first foray into the world of cryptocurrency.
The device, which is scheduled to start shipping in June, isn’t the most elegant, but as a cryptocurrency wallet, function beats form. Many of the features to be found on popular hardware wallets such as the Ledger Nano are replicated here, including the ability to generate a private key and support for a range of currencies. Bitcoin, bitcoin cash, ethereum, litecoin, and zcash will all be supported, with more to be added. The device can also be used to add an additional layer of security to a third-party wallet such as Mycelium.
It’s not uncommon for hardware manufacturers to slap their badge on products that have been made on the cheap elsewhere – usually in China. While Archos has done that in the past, it insists that the Safe-T mini is developed entirely in-house. A press release (in French) explains that the device will have an OLED display, USB connection, and compatibility with all major operating systems. To launch the wallet, Archos has partnered with Domraider, a blockchain company which raised $45 million via an ICO last year. As part of the deal, a branded Domraider edition of the wallet will be created, with €50 of DRT tokens thrown in.
Archos’ entry into the cryptocurrency sector could be taken as evidence of the irresistible lure of crypto. Then again, with companies like Apple and Amazon now manufacturing their own audio hardware – and Spotify rumored to be joining them – Archos’ diversification may simply be a survival strategy.