Essential sold fewer than 90,000 phones in its first six months

Photo by Vjeran Pavic / The Verge

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.

Comments

Here’s my guess: Probably have a shoe-string budget for a 2.0 that has solid but not great specs and minimal marketing, resulting in another flop and bankruptcy.

Or they pull a Moto and focus on a really good budget phone. Of course… Moto still died.

There are 5 billion Google Play services devices installed, so that’s the Android market today, most people replace their phone after 24 months, so 90k is very small number, this company will probably declare in bankruptcy in the next months

Why would he sell to Google? He specifically left them to do his own thing. I don’t think he would give his firstborn, so to speak, to them.

Oh yeah, I forgot about that. Well I guess his job there was nonessential.

It was also rumored he was unhappy with the way Schmidt was taking Android

Google doesn’t need Essential, that’d be a waste of time in my opinion. However, Amazon should pounce on them after they release a second phone that also fails to sell well. Amazon’s phone sucked but if they could buy and rebrand the phones Essential is making and sell them then that could work for them. The Essential phone is better than anything Amazon ever made and having it actually run Google play services would also help.

having it actually run Google play services would also help.

Why on earth would Amazon do that? The reason they forked to FireOS is to stop Google creaming their data.

And without Google services, the phone would never take off.

Yup. Because Android isn’t really open.

Seconding the fact that Google doesn’t need them – especially with acquiring the HTC team that has worked on their phones. It would be unnecessary.

Amazon? Sure.

Unfortunately, they apparently have really bad software based on Androidpolice follow up articles.

From what I gather it is loads better, but still slower than an iPhone X in day to day usage speed tests. Not surprising though, seeing as it was their first year. OnePlus was smart enough to pay Cyanogen, Rubin should have done something similar.
The Essential phone is living proof that stock Android completely blows.

I have to wonder, how does the Essential phone prove that stock Android blows? The Pixel line is doing fine…

The OS, when comparing the X (or 8/8 Plus) to almost any Android phone, is a moot point, as the A11 Bionic is the fastest chip set currently made for mobile phones. The new 845 from Snapdragon running on a device with 6GB of RAM is still slower than the A11 Bionic on an iPhone with 3GB of RAM. Qualcomm’s own tests proved this.

I knew someone was going to say that. The Pixel is NOT STOCK ANDROID. The Essential was AOSP with three or four small changes for hardware and a camera app. Since the release they have been frantically working to optimize.

And it isn’t moot. Not at all. I can be typing a text on my OP5 (using FP) by the time the iPhoneX face unlocks. That is just one example. These seconds add up. Remember the average person gets in their phone eighty times a day. Throw in some slow animations while things wait to load and slower web app opening/loading times and you are losing days of your life over the course of the year. Note: I am [obviously] a bit anal retentive when it comes to speed. I sold two Pixels, a Note8, and traded back an iPhone 7+ in order to go back to my OP5 last year.

I have a feeling that number would be a lot higher if it had a headphone jack and no camera notch.

I think the mediocre camera performance and flagship price was the biggest showstopper for most people who were even aware of it. The lack of any marketing and carrier deals (Sprint doesn’t count) meant no non-enthusiast phone buyer would even consider it. The lack of headphone jack is probably a small factor too. I think the notch is at the bottom the list if someone was actually aware of the phone and considering buying it.

Absolutely no question the camera performance, and a buggy android experience killed this phone.

If a v2 of this phone comes out with mid range to high end specs, excellent camera, and similar built quality it would likely do very well. People love the look and feel of this phone.

I don’t like it, but I don’t think anyone, and certainly not Essential, can do "very well", even with an excellent phone. Only Samsung and Apple are still successfully selling high-end (in terms of price) smartphones. Google has managed to compete with the Pixels but they’re still a drop in the ocean – even with the brand Google and near-perfect hardware. Rest of the market is flooded by cheap (again, talking about price not device quality) smartphones from OPPO, Huawei, Xiaomi. HTC, LG, Sony, etc… have 10x the power and experience that Essential have and they’re struggling big time. 100% of the profits in this industry is made by Apple and Samsung. There’s zero chance any smartphone that is not Apple or Samsung makes it out there without losing money, and there’s zero chance Essential could afford losing money at any moment of its existence.

Camera, Sprint exclusivity (a death sentence if ever I saw one) I think are the big issues. You still sell most phones through a carrier.

OnePlus kinda nullifies Sprint. It was all about the terrible android experience and the camera. They came out too quick. Had they come out with the phone today it would have done much better. I for sure would have bought one.

Out of curiosity what kind of numbers does One plus put up? I’d be really curious to see what they did in their first 6 months to get a fair comparison.
Essential has a lot of money in the bank so I truly believe they’ll stick around for at least a couple more devices. They need to be sharp thoigh. Very very sharp

I don’t have numbers, but I expect OnePlus actually sold fewer phones during their initial run. Those were hard to get, which helped drive organic buzz among enthusiasts. OnePlus was always playing a long game.

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