Friday (Dec 28) was a sad day for Essential PH-1 fans as the company announced it was discontinuing the 2017 phone.
However, it’s not all bad news because the Palo Alto-based startup has promised it would continue to support the device by way of accessories and regular software updates.
But, what die-hard fans can really take heart from is the fact that the company is going full steam ahead with its “next mobile product.”
Although it didn’t reveal much, if anything at all, about what exactly the so-called ‘mobile product’ would be, there are rumors aplenty about the work in progress, which we’ll talk about in a bit.
Here’s the official statement
“We are sold out of Essential Phone on essential.com and won’t be adding any new inventory.
“We are now hard at work on our next mobile product and will continue to sell accessories and provide speedy software updates and customer support to our existing community.”
The man behind the Playground Global-funded startup is none other than Android co-founder Andy Rubin who launched Essential in November 2015.
The Essential phone came about in late 2017, with a teardrop notch for the camera on the front, making it almost an all-screen device.
While a lot was being expected from the phone, largely because Android-man Rubin was behind it, Essential PH-1 never really took off.
The company sold fewer than 90,000 units in the first six months, even though the phone had decent specs, including a Snapdragon 835 processor, 4GB of RAM, 128GB of onboard storage, and a cool little design, not to forget that Essential put up multiple updates to improve the phone over time.
Although a new device has been promised, there’s some ambiguity in the use of the phrase “next mobile product” because a mobile product can be a number of things.
But if one had to guess, it would have to be another phone because you can’t imagine Essential releasing a watch or a tablet for the simple reason that they just don’t sell that well compared to phones.
So, it’s got to be a phone; well, hopefully, that’s what it is.
It would be the most logical option because, maybe, the company has learned from its mistakes on the Essential PH-1, which did have some glaring faults, including a screen that was too dark, cameras that were not that impressive, software that was mostly buggy, although, to be fair, a lot of that got fixed through relentless software updates.
Rumor has it that the new device being developed will use artificial intelligence (AI) to respond to phone calls and messages on behalf of users, but whether it’s the “next mobile product” Essential is talking about, or something else the company is working on, is not really clear at this point.
Bloomberg reported in October that Essential was developing a new device that would likely free users from their phones.
According to the media company, the AI-enabled device would come with a small screen, respond to voice commands, and have the ability to mimic users to respond to their texts, emails, book appointments, and even make phone calls on their behalf.
In an exclusive interview at Playground Global in August last year, Rubin spoke about his vision of a dream phone, that would represent “a virtual version of you,” affording you a lot of free time by managing your day-to-day activity on your smartphone.
“If I can get to the point where your phone is a virtual version of you, you can be off enjoying your life, having that dinner, without touching your phone, and you can trust your phone to do things on your behalf,” Rubin said, adding, “I think I can solve part of the addictive behavior.”
He said he had a gifted software team that would “make the software do what I need it to do to bring some of those AI things to life”.
“If somebody texts you ‘do you want to get sushi tonight?’, it’s going to come up with six responses, and you’re going to pick the best response,” he said.
“And over time, you’re reinforcing it by giving it the right response, and it becomes aware of your taste and your preferences, and probably the nth time, it’s not going to ask you anymore,” added the Essential chief.