Mobile

Hardware startup Essential is shutting down after releasing only one device

It looks like Essential, the hardware startup founded by Android creator Andy Rubin, is done. The company announced that it was shutting down in the form of a blog post on its website, citing the fact that it had no clear path to delivering its next products to customers.

Essential launched three years ago, and it soon released its first product, the Essential PH-1 smartphone. At the time, the device was one of the first to offer an edge-to-edge display, and it received relatively good reviews for its modern design and good performance. That said, the device didn’t exactly sell as Essential might have hoped.

Toward the end of last year, the company released concept images of a new product, called Gem. Gem was essentially an ultra-slim smartphone with a new, custom version of Android.

“Despite our best efforts, we’ve now taken Gem as far as we can and regrettably have no clear path to deliver it to customers,” said Essential in its blog post. “Given this, we have made the difficult decision to cease operations and shut down Essential. We are incredibly grateful to our employees in Palo Alto and Bangalore as well as our global partners for their help and dedication bringing this concept to life.”

Of course, Essential wasn’t without its controversy — namely thanks to its founder, the creator of Android and former senior executive at Google, Andy Rubin. In 2018, a report from the New York Times highlighted Rubin’s sexual misconduct while at Google, also noting the steps Google took to sweep the allegations under the rug. Ultimately, the allegations led to Rubin leaving Google — but not without a massive $90 million exit package.

Unfortunately, the shut down of Essential also spells the end of support for its smartphones. The company also announced that the February 3 security update is the last for the Essential PH-1, so if you still have the PH-1 you’ll be using it at your own risk. On top of that, Newton Mail, which was bought by Essential in 2018, will also be shutting down in April — so if you’re still using Newton Mail, it might be time to migrate to a new email client. The company says that it will post a vendor image and other tools for developers who want to build software for the Essential PH-1 on Github.

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