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Andy Rubin's Essential Phone Considered Anything But (theregister.co.uk) 150

An anonymous reader shares a report: Andy Rubin's ambitions to create a new consumer electronics ecosystem are floundering at base camp. Sales of Essential's phone, which forms a key part of the strategy, are tepid. Google Play reports a mere 50,000 download of Essential's Camera app so far, the Android Police blog notes. This doesn't paint the full picture, but it can be assumed a fairly complete one, barring a few brush strokes. Essential launched in the US with support from Sprint, at a recommended SIM-free retail price of $699. After reported sales of just five thousand in the first month, this was slashed to $499 and could be grabbed for $399 in the post-Thanksgiving sales. As devices from different manufacturers proliferate in the home, Rubin has alluded to "a new operating system so it can speak all those protocols and it can do it securely and privately." But rather than launching a new software platform he's had to launch hardware.
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Andy Rubin's Essential Phone Considered Anything But

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  • by GameboyRMH ( 1153867 ) <gameboyrmh@gCHEETAHmail.com minus cat> on Wednesday December 13, 2017 @10:28AM (#55731727) Journal

    Costly niche product doesn't sell in large numbers, news at 11!

    (If they ever want money, just build a modern smartphone in landscape slider form)

    • It's like the 8th magical open phone, after the Firefox phone, the Ubuntu phone, and some others nobody ever heard of.

      Today we hear a lot about bitcoin and blockchain, too, with IBM trying to talk people into shoving blockchain where it doesn't belong.

    • by pots ( 5047349 )
      The significant part of the article was the paragraph after the one quoted in the summary:

      ... But rather than launching a new software platform he's had to launch hardware.

      This is a reality of life these days, unfortunately. To get your software adopted widely, and for your services to reach critical scale, you need to make hardware. It's why Amazon makes Alexas and Fire devices, and why Google pours so much effort into digital tat nobody wants.

      It's not news, just a sad truth.

  • Security is simply no sales argument and can't compete with OHHH SHINY!!!!!

    • Security is simply no sales argument and can't compete with OHHH SHINY!!!!!

      True though in fairness security and "shiny" are not mutually exclusive and security (in principle) should be a given. Even though they shouldn't, people are going to tend to assume that devices are secure. This isn't true of course but if they don't (knowingly) get hurt then they will assume that it isn't a problem. And there is no reason in principle to assume that a device cannot be both secure and a lot of interesting useful features too.

      • Security runs contrary to the interests of the makers of devices who want to sell their devices to you, use them to spy on you and sell that data to whoever wants to pay for it.

        • by Arkham ( 10779 )

          Security runs contrary to the interests of the makers of devices who want to sell their devices to you, use them to spy on you and sell that data to whoever wants to pay for it.

          You must work for Samsung.

    • What security? It's stock Android, with all the Google tracking that implies.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Consumers are saturated with ONE FORM FACTOR for their phones.

    Many consumers are tired of enormous, fragile, thin phones.

    We want a phone that fits comfortably and safely in our back jeans pocket and does not break if sat on.

    Like ALL phones a few short years ago.

    MAKE ONE, SHEEP !

    AND WE DON'T CARE HOW THICK IT IS !

    • by Octorian ( 14086 ) on Wednesday December 13, 2017 @10:57AM (#55731893) Homepage

      Just make the damn thing as thick as the phone+case everyone carries now, but robust enough that the case isn't necessary. Then use the extra space for batteries (and not removing the headphone jack).

      Seriously, the problem is that everyone tries so hard to make the phone look as "shiny" as possible on a store shelf, without giving a damn about what its *actually* like to the *actual* user a month later.

      • You might like the Kyocera DuraForce. It's not the fastest phone, but it has Android 7.1 and the battery seems to last forever. Only downside with it, is it's about 2.5x the weight of a regular 5" phone with a cheap case.

    • We want a phone that fits comfortably and safely in our back jeans pocket and does not break if sat on.

      The question is, why the fuck are people carrying expensive hardware in back jeans pockets in the first place.

    • by AvitarX ( 172628 )

      Agreed,

      I want a phone, 5 inches across, but would take 50% or more depth than current, well made plastic case, 720 resolution, good sun viewable display, but lower midrange specs/price (2GB RAM, SD Card, 32GB Storage, Enough CPU/GPU that it doesn't hang, $180-$250).

      Everything seems to be $125 or 5+ inches.

  • Clueless (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Dan East ( 318230 ) on Wednesday December 13, 2017 @10:43AM (#55731805) Journal

    I don't understand how a person can come to wield financial power of the scale required to launch something like new smartphone hardware, and yet be so clueless as to the market. The fact that Microsoft could not survive in this market, with their experience creating software, purchase of Nokia, and the ability to tie the software / user experience in with their world-dominating desktop OS, should be a huge, huge hint as to their likelihood to succeed.

    • I don't understand how a person can come to wield financial power of the scale required to launch something like new smartphone hardware, and yet be so clueless as to the market.

      There are LOTS of people who have achieved fame and fortune due to fortuitous circumstances which they are incapable of repeating. It's not hard to come up with examples. Also remember that Rubin didn't do it by himself. It's kind of like being the lead singer of a successful band who cannot replicate the success of the band as a solo artist. You have to have the right team under the right circumstances to succeed.

  • Too busy (Score:4, Funny)

    by 110010001000 ( 697113 ) on Wednesday December 13, 2017 @11:03AM (#55731929) Homepage Journal
    I guess he was too busy harassing women and not paying attention to the fact that no one wants a $700 phone that isn't an iPhone.
    • by aergern ( 127031 )

      I guess you were too busy to read the articles on the subject. He wasn't accused of harassing women. He dated a subordinate. And while against company policy it wasn't harassment. You fail ... at reading and indignation. Go home.

  • to the majority. That is why nearly everyone you know carries a iPhone, not because of technical superiority (that might be debatable). That is why it is exceptionally difficult for a new entrant to break into the market.
    Phones are perceived as status symbols and unlike lot of materialistic things, even the most expensive models are within reach for most with the leasing plans offered by carriers. And largely for this reason Amazon failed with their reasonably priced phone with comparable features despite
    • by AvitarX ( 172628 )

      I would actually say "phones are hard to distinguish by specs, so brands matter".

      Other things matter, but Samsung is popular not because just because they're cool, but also because they are a known quantity (decent build, some interesting features, interface tweaks people (not me) like). An iPhone was for a while smoother (interface), or longer battery than Android, they beI'm came popular when they were arguably better. Yeah, no 3g, but the OG Android (forget the name) couldn't really keep up with 3g anywa

    • That is why nearly everyone you know carries a iPhone

      Apply some geography to that statement. iOS is hugely popular in the USA and a few other countries, but globally, Android's market share is close to 90%.

      • iOS is hugely popular in the USA and a few other countries

        And even within the US, there are huge geographical differences.

    • That is why nearly everyone you know carries a iPhone

      Actually, nearly everyone I know uses an Android phone. I can count the total number of iPhones I see regularly on one hand.

  • title says it all, it was expected like months ago and nothing. Their problem was the US market was no place for that phone - the purists already have enough to chose from with iPhones, Pixels and OnePluses. Contract-free price is meaningless there.

    Sell that phone at 400eur/380gbp on this side of the pond, where a LOT of phones are bought flat out, sans-strings attached, and where we really appreciate that effort, and you would notice a market response. How they fail to see this is beyond me. Did I mention

    • Sell that phone at 400eur/380gbp on this side of the pond, where a LOT of phones are bought flat out,

      There's no one EU market that comes anywhere close to the sales potential of the US, and releasing in many different smaller markets is a supreme pain in the ass.

      No device is going to be a success unless it can first succeed in China or the US.

      • Disagree with the former, partially argee with the later.

        There is no market like the EU for smartphones - we pay full price for devices, and when we don't, providers subsidize the remainder of the price (usually a VERY small fraction - you no longer see premium phones discounted over 15% with carrier exclusivity cntracts anymore), and manufacturers are still paid full amount, if with a small discount due to volume and/or distribution rights/explusivity/etc.

        And while I see the issue of the "many smaller mark

  • by Anonymous Coward

    It has been shown time and again that roughtly $200 is the sweet spot in pricing for establishing a market for tech gear. Usually consumers wait for that price or something close to it.

    Apple has already established themselves as the high-end "prestige" brand. They can ask whatever they want. But newcomers must "try harder"

    Recently the xda-developers released their pick [xda-developers.com] for best bang for your buck phones. Their pick? The $200 Honor 7X, a hacker friendly octocore, 64gb with "premium body quality" and con

  • Who knew competing with companies like Samsung and Apple who spend billions in advertising and billions more in R&D would be so difficult?

  • by unfortunateson ( 527551 ) on Wednesday December 13, 2017 @04:14PM (#55733899) Journal

    I've had it now for two weeks, and it's pretty darn sweet:
    * same basic specs as the Galaxy S8. Same SOC, memory and 128GB storage. Phone is a little shorter, but with less bezel, there's not much difference in pixels
    * fantastic battery life
    * sturdy construction
    * can't beat the price at those specs -- it's a high-end phone at mid-range prices
    * pure Android, no carrier or manufacturer cruft

    Downsides
    * camera is not top-notch (but it's getting better in software)
    * accessories are minimal
    * there may be some touchscreen glitches, hard to pin down (could be software, as alternate firmware doesn't have the problem)

    This is the android phone for people who want the pure experience, unlocked bootloader, and don't want to pay Pixel prices.
    Their marketing is not top-notch. I would barely have heard of it if I didn't fish in the android forum waters.
    My biggest worry is if Andy Rubin decides he's bored with it, and it loses support for upgrades in the future. However, if they deliver on the Project Treble version of Oreo, maintaining upgraded firmware gets a lot easier.

    • Please don't take this as a criticism, I'm really interested.
      Here in Europe we don't really work with heroes à la Andy Rubin, but we've had the Dutch Fairphone company for years now, which is geared to ethical procurement rather than google independence but still have a rooted version, and even a version compatible with the Sailfish OS (for the daring).
      Their latest model, Fairphone 2, is about one year old now.
      I had the Fairphone 1 before my company forced me to use their Samsung-VPNed standard : FF1

  • At the initial price point, it wasn't exactly a stellar deal for anybody.

    Personally, I still consider it seriously overpriced as it lacks essentials such as headphone jack, SD card slot and removable battery.

  • because this phone also gives no (headphone) jack.

    Bluetooth still has a lot of problems including output lag, quality, battery, price, and security. It's a good option to have but not a replacement. Also the adapter can easily break due to one flaw. Angled 3.5mm headphone plug can tell you why.

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