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Android Businesses The Almighty Buck

Not Many People Are Buying Andy Rubin's iPhone-Killer Essential Phone, It Seems (fiercewireless.com) 148

An anonymous reader shares a report: Essential Products has sold an estimated 5,000 phones through Sprint since the gadget made its big retail debut in the United States earlier this month, according to estimates from BayStreet Research. That figure would put Essential, whose maker became a unicorn without shipping handset, well below market heavyweights like Apple and Samsung, which typically sell tens of millions of phones per quarter in the United States. BayStreet tracks shipments of phones and other devices across the United States. Essential representatives didn't respond to requests for comment on the BayStreet estimates. BayStreet also clarified that its 5,000 figure is an estimate of Essential's sell-through (when a customer buys a product from a retailer) rather than its sell-in (when a retailer buys something from a manufacturer). Sprint is the exclusive carrier for the phone; most phones in the United States are sold through carriers. However, Essential also offers an unlocked version of its gadget. Essential, the first major startup from Android founder Andy Rubin's venture capital firm Playground, currently sells the $699 Android-powered Essential Phone through Sprint and promises to release the Essential Home smart-home hub later this year. Essential was named as one of FierceWireless' top 15 startups to watch in 2017.
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Not Many People Are Buying Andy Rubin's iPhone-Killer Essential Phone, It Seems

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  • by JohnFen ( 1641097 ) on Thursday September 28, 2017 @12:29PM (#55270613)

    Personally, the Essential seems like an acceptable phone, but it's also not very compelling compared to the other phones in that price range.

    If the Essential is still around when it comes time for me to replace my phone (I'm guessing that's probably 2 or 3 years away), I will certainly consider it as an option.

    • by mjwx ( 966435 ) on Thursday September 28, 2017 @12:41PM (#55270695)

      Sounds like the biggest problem it has is that it's sold exclusively through carriers... specifically one carrier in one country that runs a network incompatible with the ROTW. I couldn't get one in the UK or anywhere in Europe (or Asia for that matter).

      They would have sold many more units if it were unlocked and available world wide.

    • by msauve ( 701917 ) on Thursday September 28, 2017 @01:18PM (#55270959)
      "seems like an acceptable phone"

      User replaceable battery: no
      SDCard slot: no
      Headphone jack: no
      Want one: no
      • Yeah, those are all serious problems with the phone. The only reason I hedge is because I'm not convinced that alternatives will be any better in 2 or 3 years time.

    • The thing with smartphones. Is that it has became more or less an integral part of our modern life. Our choice of phone will force us to live with it normally for the next 2-4 years. While there isn’t anything wrong choosing a lesser known phone. However if the phone company goes out of business. You may loose out on support and updates that may particularly designed for that phone.
      Remember the Amazon Fire? It had a lot of cool features at the time but no one really wanted it. And I don’t th

      • However if the phone company goes out of business. You may loose out on support and updates that may particularly designed for that phone.

        True, but realistically you can't rely on the support of any manufacturer because they're going to end the support long before the phone stops working.

        My approach is to make sure that any phone I buy is one I can install my own ROM onto and have it work acceptably. That way, I don't need the manufacturer for anything, and if they drop support for the phone (or go out of business), it's not a problem.

  • by supertall ( 1163993 ) on Thursday September 28, 2017 @12:34PM (#55270637)
    I wouldn't want to be a beta tester for a 1st gen device with no pedigree. Maybe after a few iterations, sure.
    • I wouldn't want to be a beta tester for a 1st gen device with no pedigree. Maybe after a few iterations, sure.

      I dunno, I happily replaced a blackberry with an original iphone shortly after launch, and used it for three years.

      And to be fair, Andy did found Danger and Android, so there's some pedigree there.

      • by Dog-Cow ( 21281 )

        I'm not at all an Android fan, but the Android that Rubin released bears little resemblance to what Android is now. What he released was little more than an iPhoneOS clone.

    • by hackel ( 10452 )

      I would. See, beta testers are supposed to get the device for FREE, in exchange for testing a potentially unstable device and giving detailed bug reports. For some reason manufacturers seem to have forgotten this over the years.

      • by Dog-Cow ( 21281 )

        I didn't realize that common practice 20 years ago has become law.

      • For some reason manufacturers seem to have forgotten this over the years.

        They didn't forget, they just realized that they didn't need to do quality beta testing in order to make the product a commercial success.

  • ... of things that are supposed to be an {X}-killer, but flame out. I've lost track of the number of MMOs, for example, that were supposed to be a WoW-killer.

  • I really haven't understood all the hype around the Essential phone. How is it fundamentally different than all the other smart phones on the market?

    Oh, and the iPhone has a pretty small market share, so calling something an iPhone killer seem to be setting a pretty low bar...

    • Marketing.

      When this popped up, I was like, "Another Ubuntu/Firefox/Amazon phone?" Another "We are going to release $POPULAR_PRODUCT and take the market by storm!"

      Every time I hear about a product in a market where everyone has that kind of product, where the product has some gimmick (in the phone market, that's typically being open-source), I think of Simon [27bslash6.com].

    • Oh, and the iPhone has a pretty small market share, so calling something an iPhone killer seem to be setting a pretty low bar...

      Apple is the 3rd largest smartphone maker in the world, just barely behind Huawei. Killing the iPhone is a very high bar for a manufacturer.

  • by GenP ( 686381 ) on Thursday September 28, 2017 @12:44PM (#55270723)
    * User-replaceable battery * SD card support * Non-giant (5") screen
    • by Anonymous Coward

      Headphone jack is also missing.

    • They failed to know their target market. It's aimed at privacy-conscious techies, but then they made the same mistakes Apple and the others do. They certainly don't have the brand power to compete with them at the status-symbol price point they set.
      • by Dog-Cow ( 21281 )

        When you stop eating the lead paint, you might recover enough brain function to realize that Apple has succeeded well beyond most people's expectations.

        And no one beyond stupid shits like you, no one considers an iPhone a status symbol.

    • yup, those are deal killers, and the CDMA is a lock in to Sprint while GSM is used by more carriers and international while CDMA is rapidly becoming obsolete and is used only in the USA
  • No? Then it's not glitzy high-tech enough for me.
    • by sinij ( 911942 )
      However, its surface is mostly resistant to cat parasites. So it is not a transmission vector for this hidden epidemic.
    • Blockchain seems useless. I was actually thinking of a bloom filter phone protocol a few years ago.

      Your cell phone operator knows where you are because your phone sends its IMEI and the SIM identifiers and such to identify itself. That's true today.

      That means your cell phone operator knows where you usually are (what tower, region, whatnot), because we can't assume they don't collect and model the statistics--kind of like how e-mailing your private key in plaintext means a lot of people along the way

  • As technically interesting as the phone might be, it's difficult to trust a small manufacturer and ecosystem to secure my private information on my devices against apps, 3rd parties, and hackers doing things that I don't know are being done. Essential phone -- what do you want to bet that they take any of that shit seriously, or have the resources to do so? Cmon, even Google doesn't police its apps and infrastructure well, what are the chances that a down-the-rung OEM does?

    To be a serious player in the
    • As technically interesting as the phone might be, it's difficult to trust a small manufacturer and ecosystem to secure my private information on my devices

      It's difficult to trust most manufacturers for this, regardless of size. And, if security is your main concern, you shouldn't trust any of them, even if they're good on that count. Things can change in the future without notice.

  • One of "top 15 startups to watch in 2017"? Why was this company chosen so? I guess because of Andy Rubin.
    People put too much faith on famous names. Some people can consistently make a difference but most can't. Also success most of the time depends both on capacity and luck/being in the right place at the right time.
    • One of "top 15 startups to watch in 2017"? Why was this company chosen so?

      One of the top 15 startups to watch in 2017... as chosen by Fierce Wireless, whoever they are.

      Really this article has more of a "hey we are Fierce Wireless, please come look at us" shilling vibe than anything else. Especially when, like other such articles which appear on Slashdot, it was submitted by "an anonymous reader". I'm guessing Mr. Anonymous Reader has an @fiercewireless.com email address.

  • by fred6666 ( 4718031 ) on Thursday September 28, 2017 @01:00PM (#55270831)

    Similar pricing as the Galaxy S8. Weaker distribution channels. Unknown brand. Releases months later.
    It could compete with One Plus and other cheap brands but it's too expensive for that.

    Its main advantage is the 128 GB storage but the market for that amount of storage is too small. Especially outside of the Apple world.

    If it weren't for Andy Rubin, we wouldn't even have heard of this phone. And those who don't know who Rubin is definitely never heard about this phone to begin with.

    • by starless ( 60879 )

      Similar pricing as the Galaxy S8. [...]Its main advantage is the 128 GB storage but the market for that amount of storage is too small. Especially outside of the Apple world.

      And of course you can add an additional 128 GB to the S8 via a microSD card for 40 bucks or so....

    • by cfalcon ( 779563 )

      > Similar pricing as the Galaxy S8. Weaker distribution channels. Unknown brand. Releases months later.

      But how much space does it have compared to a Nomad?

  • Why not one of the other three big carriers which may have better quality services or plans? Maybe I'm ignorant, but if the phones are capable, like Google, sell direct with all US frequencies and bands, carrier unlocked, then customers can get a SIM from the carrier or MVNO of their choice.
  • It's an unrepairable atrocity. If I wanted such a piece of shit, I'd already be buying one of the other epoxied-shut phones. Or an iBendOver iPhone.

    Sorry... screens break, USB ports wear out and batteries need to be replaced long before I feel like being extorted out the cost of a whole new phone. If I can't easily do those two things, I'm not buying your shit.

  • Sprint phones are all CDMA, while GSM is the better standard used by more carriers, hmm? i wonder if Essential Products thought of that?
    • Both Sprint and Verizon are deprecating their cdmaOne/cdma2000 networks in favor of GSM version 4, aka LTE. Anyone producing phones for either carrier these days has to provide LTE functionality. So this isn't a problem.
  • Here is my "Essential' phone :

    - Phone service (duh!)
    - Replaceable battery
    - Audio jack
    - SD card support
    - Basic camera (doesn't need 9 Gazillon Pixels resolution)
    - Wifi

    That's it.

    What I don't need:
    - GPS (if need one, I'll buy one)
    - High quality camera (if need one, I'll buy one)
    - Finger scanner
    - Face recognition
    - Bluetooth (I prefer cable)

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Sounds like you just want a flip phone with a half decent web browser. Most people want/need a bit more in their phones. Esp GPS. If a company made a phone w/o GPS i doubt anybody would buy it.

      • by Streetlight ( 1102081 ) on Thursday September 28, 2017 @01:34PM (#55271059) Journal
        Agree about the need for GPS. Why carry two devices when one does the trick. Ever gotten lost driving a car without a GPS or its software is out of date? A phone with Google Maps saves the day. One of our cars has a GPS system, but is out of date. The update software costs ~$180, and we don't know how up to date it is. Once we went looking for an address but when we got there the car's GPS map showed we were in the middle of nowhere with no roads. My wife as navigator with her phone and google maps got us there.
        • by dj245 ( 732906 )

          Agree about the need for GPS. Why carry two devices when one does the trick. Ever gotten lost driving a car without a GPS or its software is out of date? A phone with Google Maps saves the day. One of our cars has a GPS system, but is out of date. The update software costs ~$180, and we don't know how up to date it is. Once we went looking for an address but when we got there the car's GPS map showed we were in the middle of nowhere with no roads. My wife as navigator with her phone and google maps got us there.

          My boss takes his standalone GPS everywhere. He says it is very helpful to have a separate device to navigate with when is on conference calls. He travels a lot and also has to be on conference calls. For me and you and most other people, a separate car isn't worth the weight and space, but there are always edge cases.

        • If I got lost without a GPS (HO MY GOD!) you know what? I'll ask for help, read a map (electronic or not), ... I don't how people did 15-20 years ago without a GPS beside them 24/7.

          And you know you can use Google Map (or any other maps) without a GPS. You don't "need" a GPS. People will also say (soon) they "need" an assistant like Google Assitant, Siri, ... because you know, what people will do if they do not have an assistant remembering them to breath, take a bath, brush their teeth, eat, take their chil

          • so I'm guessing you hunt all your food too. And you dug your own well for fresh water, or got lucky enough to live near drinkable water. Oh all the fuzzes of societal evolution keeping us from the joys of the past...

            In contrast: you already breath automatically; and baths were much less frequent some decades ago; and you didn't even brush your teeth (which you now can chose to use electrical brushes too); taking children to school? You must mean pre-school right? Because if you have to work on location all

    • Also what you *DON'T* need:

      - Ceramic enclosure
      - Brushed Aluminum enclosure
      - Sapphire/gorilla glass
    • The fact I don't see apps tells me 2 things: someone hasn't used a phone this decade, and that sums up the multitude of essential things that are on the bottom list, like the first 3 and Bluetooth.

      There is a reason the GPS market is down, and that's because of smartphone navigation now being better than single-purpose devices. Miles better.
      There's a reason the non-slr digital camera market has been obliterated, and that's the ubiquitous High Quality cameraphone. "The best camera is the camera you have with

      • That's why I said 'my' essential phone ;) I don't need my phone connected to my scale, watch, lamps (wtf ?!)... I don't use any keyboard, mouse, ... with my _phone_. I think you listen/read/eat/swallow/... too much "you're so 2016.." marketing propaganza. You don't "need" it. Professional marketers say you need it (and you listen to them).

        And I'm not the grey beard old fart you think I am (I work in IT and love technology a lot!). But we don't need everything to be connected and traceable 24/7. Same thing

        • Yes, my super expensive (10 bucks) multicolor, dimmable led lamp, which can (emphasis "can", on/off still on the wall) be controlled by my phone and will even play music that I stream to it. As opposed to having a hundreds of bucks installation of dimmers, and I won't even go to the cost of wall control panels for color. Welcome to 2017. BAM!

          Nevertheless, that's your phone, that's your needs. No argument there. Now assistants? I never mentioned those. Those will take years before they become useful AND usab

    • by Dog-Cow ( 21281 )

      Sounds like you need to earn a few million dollars to pay some Chinese company to do a one-off.

  • Mine fell between the sections of my couch, about a foot, and it totally destroyed the screen. Waiting on a insurance replacement so that I can possibly change my lease with Sprint.

    Nobody sells a proper case (the only things I can find were holsters), and all the screen protectors have miserable reviews because they lift at the edges.

    The super smooth back needs a little bit of grip to prevent it sliding, and I'll probably laser cut a Talon grip sheet into something useful if Sprint won't let me change.

    1 st

  • When you can get a 399$ Blackberry Priv or a Asus Zenfone 3, both with 64gb/4gb with a sliding keyboard or a dual sim ! Where is the deal?

  • by argStyopa ( 232550 ) on Thursday September 28, 2017 @01:32PM (#55271053) Journal

    ....the only people idiotic enough to pay a boutique phone price like an Apple, are people deeply invested in brand-identification.

    There's a reason the Volkswagen W8 bombed so spectacularly: people dumping piles of $ on anything need other people to constantly RECOGNIZE that they've done so.

    • Or people who trust the track record of a specific brand. I've bought Apple or Samsung phones before, I know they worked fine, and so I'm happy to buy them again.

      I might be willing to try a new brand, but the higher percent chance that I will have a problem has to be priced into the phone. For an unknown brand to charge the same as an established brand, it has to be compellingly better...when really it looks about the same or slightly worse as other phones in the price range.

      Plus...Sprint?

  • by CHK6 ( 583097 ) on Thursday September 28, 2017 @01:41PM (#55271117)
    Comparing Essential to the likes of Apple and Samsung is akin to comparing a little kid's lemon aid stand to Cola-Cola's distribution. Apple, Samsung, and the likes already had decades of market penetration with a broad spectrum of other products from desktops to washing machines sold across multiple distribution channels. I say selling 5K units directly to customers in a saturated market with zero prior branding is 4K more than expected. Let's have some realistic perspective.

    I wish Andy Rubin poured his talent and resources into making a Linux phone, but I understand why Android was targeted.
  • If it's failing, maybe there should be a qualifier around "iPhone-Killer" in the headline. Or, leave it out, because "...-killer" was played out five years ago.

  • They said Ambient OS would be "open source, like android," but there's nothing about that on their web site. Give me a phone on which I can run software I built from source, and that would be worth dropping some cash on. As it is, I have a perfectly nice Google phone that is sort-of open source-ish. I realize that this is a bit of a niche, but it astonishes me that nobody has attempted to suck in developers by doing this. An open source phone ecosystem would really enable some out-of-the-box innovat

  • After reading this story I realized I had been in my local Sprint shop just 3 days ago and did not see a single poster/mention of this 'special' device. If no one knows about it, how can they be expected to purchase one?

  • It's just too fucking expensive. Yes, it's a cool phone, but fuck all if I'm going to pay $700 or more for one of them.

    There are LOADS of perfectly acceptable feature-loaded phones you can buy for $200 to $300. No one has managed to explain why this phone is a good deal for $700.

  • Housing its main distinguishing feature , while hi-end it is lower priority to very capable less costly aluminum & gorilla glass standard. Also, Does not offer water proof or headphone jack or memory card expansion. iPhone 7 offers waterproof so a tradeoff for headphone and mem card. Likewise other non water proof phones offer head phone and or mem card. Mediocre camera but offers a nifty magnetic accessory. Folks essentially want the base product features first with accessories as the name implies se
  • My favorite reason for people not wanting to buy a phone

    SDCard slot: no

    Because not all OEM's want to pay M$ for having a SDCard

    M$ owns FAT, any phone that uses a SDCard slot has to pay M$ a license fee

    Why would any company want to go to bed with M$ is beyond me, I'm just glad there is a choice, I always choose no sdcard, I backup everything to either my own cloud or ftp server

    Haven't used any M$ since 1997 and very proud of it.

  • running kitkat the only concern i'm starting to have is security ?
    it has a little light, a recorder and it can send messages ... runs wechat, line and one or two more and prevents me from installing 200 others i dont need even if had the money to spare id pass, thanks, unless you get phones with replacable parts like i mean pico-itx boards and stuff with a simcardslot ?
    no ?
    cos that would be like ... well .. fun

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