Betting on growing efforts by regulators around the world to rein in Alphabet’s Apple and Google on mobile platforms, the Swiss firm is developing a third option based on the promise of data sovereignty.
Founder Petter Neby is attending the World Economic Forum to pitch Apostrophy to potential investors and government officials seeking a more competitive mobile landscape.
Based in Lugano, Apostrophy is entering a field of competition that has largely been abandoned after failed attempts to challenge Google’s Android and Apple’s iOS ecosystems by companies such as Microsoft, Samsung, HP Palm and even the Mozilla Foundation’s Firefox OS. Nebi’s team recruited former software engineers from a joint venture called KaiOS that targeted affordable devices and emerging markets.
Apostrophy CEO Petter Neby founded Punkt in 2008, a brand of feature phones aimed at people who want to stay connected without the distraction of modern smartphones. It relies on deep business expertise, appointing Steve Cistulli, who has 25 years of experience in the mobile industry, as Chief Executive Officer.
Unlike Apple and Google, Apostrophy intends to charge a subscription fee for its combination of software and services — its key customers will be hardware manufacturers rather than end users, reminiscent of BlackBerry’s security-focused ecosystem of services. Punkt is one of the company’s clients. Apostrophy has more than 50 employees worldwide and will raise €10 million this year.
The company’s software, called AphyOS, is built on an open-source version of Android called GrapheneOS. It works by segregating apps to prevent user behavior from being tracked — similar to the changes Apple made to iOS that had a disastrous impact on Meta’s ad sales.
Aphy will be able to run Android apps, but won’t include Google’s Mobile Services or the Play Store by default.