Essential, Android co-founder Andy Rubin’s new smartphone venture, had a rough go of it last year trying to get off the ground with a brand-new flagship handset. Not only did the device face some serious launch delays, but industry research firm IDC is now reporting that Essential sold fewer than 90,000 units in its first six months on the market.
Francisco Jeronimo, IDC’s research director, tweeted out the stat this morning, writing that the device is “still a long way from becoming a successful venture.” No one reasonably expected Rubin’s new smartphone company to go head-to-head with Apple or Samsung anytime soon (or ever for that matter). But 88,000 units, which is the exact figure IDC reports for Essential Phone sales in 2017, is still quite low and illustrates the uphill battle Rubin is fighting by launching a new phone in a mature, high-end market dominated by some of the world’s largest and most well-equipped corporations.
Essential is effectively a startup, and although it has some of the best expertise in the business alongside Rubin’s reputation, the company may not be able to weather the storm as it slashes costs on the Essential Phone and gears up to inevitably try and launch a successor. The device itself is now $499 after some aggressive cost-cutting and a temporary $399 Cyber Monday deal, suggesting Essential’s margins may be razor-thin at this point as it tries to get more units out into the wild. How long the company continues down this path is up in the air, but the phone is still receiving camera updates, and an eventual Android 8.1 Oreo update is coming soon.