Essential Phone Is Dead

Essential is Dead

Andy Rubin’s fledgling iPhone competitor “Essential” is dead.

Bloomberg reports that the company has put itself up for sale in its entirety.

Rubin may not have been thinking clearly or was in his own reality distortion field regarding the chances of success.

The launch of Essential was not a safe bet (or even a good idea) simply because of the staggering challenges it (any smartphone startup) was going to face in an attempt to go head-to-head with Apple and Samsung.

Huge risk, huge upside.

In terms of an overall bet, at his level of success, it’s probably not a big deal for him. His investors took a flyer on an expert with 20+ years of experience designing the leading smartphones in the world.

If it had been luckier, perhaps Essential could have won as a niche.

Even Blackberry still has its true devotees… Essential never seemed to find that audience.

Global Smartphone Units Sold

To paraphrase Jack Donaghy from 30Rock, Apple leave particles of companies like Essential in its wind.

Indeed, with only 90,000 units sold in all of 2017, Essentials sales make Blackberry’s 850,000 units look like iPhone. Er…

At least they would, if they showed up in the chart below… If you look closely, you can just baaaaaaarely make out Blackberry’s global sales next to Apple and Samsung.

But Essential? They’re too small to even register when using millions as the unit of measurement in terms of global smartphone sales.

[visualizer id=”4064″]


If Essential had been truly remarkable, a rabid, loyal fan base might have formed with early support that was vocal and weird enough to gain some attention…

But even then…

The company would have had an absolutely monumental slog ahead of them. Using Paul Graham’s “Trough of Sorrow” as a guide, Essential Phone would have had years ahead of them before they could have even hoped to make a profit.

They probably hadn’t even really entered the depths of “the trough” itself…

essential phone trough of sorrow

Essential Phone was effectively unveiled last year… Almost exactly a year ago, in fact, on May 30th, 2017.

Most people had no idea the phone even existed… Even if it had found an audience, Apple eats up 87% of the entire smartphone industry’s profits with iPhone.

To compete against that, you need something truly remarkable.

Essential was simply another piece of hardware running a version of Android. Andy Rubin was a co-creator of Android, so this isn’t surprising, but Android is associated with Google now.

To create something truly new and remarkable, Rubin would have had to have been created a new operating system to compete with Apple iOS and Android — One that was better than both of them.

Mind bogglingly tough.

My guess is that the company will be acquired for its engineering talent first, technology and patents second.

Acquirers are likely to be Apple itself, Samsung, HTC or LG.

Much like Fitbit trying to compete with Apple Watch, it just doesn’t make sense.

Like Essential, my guess is that Fitbit will ultimately either go out of business or be acquired by Google or another company that needs help in wearables and smartwatches.