After its first product launch saw dismal sales and immediate price cuts, Essential, the company created by Android co-founder Andy Rubin, is considering selling itself, according to sources speaking to Bloomberg. That is a quick turnaround, considering the Essential Phone (PH-1) launched late in 2017.
Essential was the first to introduce the “notch” design — a cutout at the top of the phone housing the camera — that beat the iPhone X to the punch. It also distinguished itself with its titanium and ceramic design, and also by running a stock version of Android with zero bloatware, offering swift Android updates when Google rolled them out. Sadly, it wasn’t enough. Reviews, including ours, dinged the phone for its poor camera, though Essential has spent the past few months improving it through software updates.
When Essential launched its first smartphone, the company announced — perhaps prematurely — its road map for the coming year. The plan was to create modular components for its flagship phone every quarter, and then launch a smart home product called Essential Home, running a proprietary operating system called Ambient OS. To date, the company has only launched one module — a 360-degree camera — and a few different color variants of the original Essential Phone. The device’s price also dropped fairly quickly from $700 to below $500.
Now, the Bloomberg report states the company is considering selling its patent portfolio, the original Essential Phone as well as the 360-degree camera, its engineers, and its smart home product. Oh, and it has ceased development of an upcoming phone, presumably the Essential Phone (PH-2). A final decision hasn’t been made yet.
“We always have multiple products in development at the same time and we embrace canceling some in favor of the ones we think will be bigger hits,’ an Essential spokesperson told Digital Trends. “We are putting all of our efforts toward our future, game-changing products, which include mobile and home products.”
Rubin also tweeted out the same exact response.
We always have multiple products in development at the same time and we embrace canceling some in favor of the ones we think will be bigger hits. We are putting all of our efforts towards our future, game-changing products, which include mobile and home products.
— Andy Rubin (@Arubin) May 24, 2018
It sounds as though development of the Essential Phone 2 has been canceled. Only 150,000 Essential Phones have been sold to date, which is why the company may be gearing up to exit the smartphone business. Bloomberg states there is a chance it could re-enter the market, as Essential has explored using a different manufacturer other than Foxconn.
The Essential Home is reportedly still in the works and it’s expected to launch next year, according to Bloomberg’s sources.