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Andy Rubin’s smartphone startup, Essential, is dead

Accepted submission by exec at 2020-02-12 23:42:56

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FeedSource: [ArsTechnica]

Time: 2020-02-12 21:45:45 UTC

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Title: Andy Rubin’s smartphone startup, Essential, is dead

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Andy Rubin’s smartphone startup, Essential, is dead

Arthur T Knackerbracket has found the following story []:

Andy Rubin's smartphone startup, Essential, is finally dead []. Today, Essential announced in a blog post that it is closing its doors, saying that since it has "no clear path to deliver" its newest smartphone to customers, the company has "made the difficult decision to cease operations and shut down Essential."

Essential was Andy Rubin's next company after his previous gig at Google, where he lead the development of Android, taking the OS from nothing to the world's most popular operating system. Being "The Father of Android" meant venture capital firms would throw money at him when he left Google to form a new company. That company was Essential, where Andy Rubin jumped full time into smartphone hardware. The company was valued at $1.2 billion [] before it even sold a single product.

The company canceled a straightforward sequel [] to the Essential Phone in 2018. By 2019, it was teasing "Project Gem"—a super-skinny smartphone with the form factor of a TV remote, which seemed like it would lack compatibility with most smartphone apps on the market. With today's announcement, the Gem phone is dead, too.

In between canceling products, Essential was a non-stop catastrophe of bad PR. The Essential Phone was delayed from its original launch date, and when the time finally came to take payments and ship the phone, the company botched the launch. Essential sent out a bizarre payment-processing email to some customers asking then to send in their photo IDs over email, then it accidentally CC'd that personal information to several other customers who bought Essential Phones. The move was one of the worst first impressions of all time, and Rubin called the mistake "humiliating" in a blog post [].

Essential was also constantly in the press for how poorly the Essential Phone was selling and how the company was going down the tubes. The fire sales started quickly for the Essential Phone, and the $700 device got a price drop to $500 [] just two months after launch. A month later, the phone was down to $400, [] and eventually, the device fell to $224. [] By May 2018, the failing company was put up for sale [], but it couldn't find a buyer. In October 2018, it was forced to lay off 30 percent [] of its staff. The company landed on our Deathwatch list [] in 2019.

In its closing blog post, Essential detailed what was left of the Gem phone project and showed off a few features from the now-dead smartphone. Just like with the previous tease, there are a few built-in apps that look like they would work on the super-skinny display, but it's unclear how the phone would work with any kind of app ecosystem.

Newton Mail, an email app Essential bought one year ago, will be shut down April 30. The Essential Phone's February security update is the last OS update the device will receive from Essential, though the company was nice enough to leave some code up [] on GitHub for the Android hacking community to produce further updates.

-- submitted from IRC

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