Having co-founded Android Inc.in 2003 and leading the charge on the mobile operating system for almost a decade after Google bought the company for at least $50 million, Andy Rubin had a great deal of momentum when he left to chart his own course. After a troubled start at a high price, it became a bit of cult device with an affordable price, elegant design, and software and security updates that often bested Google's Pixel phones.
"Our vision was to invent a mobile computing paradigm that more seamlessly integrated with people's lifestyle needs", the company said in a statement.
In a blog post on the Essential website today, the company announced that it is ceasing operations immediately and permanently. It had a "radically different" form factor: a thin, long design half the width of phablets with the length of an average phone - but given its narrow profile, made it look like at TV remote. Another device dubbed Project GEM was in the works, one with a weird form factor that looked like nothing else on the market, but Essential says it has "no clear path to deliver it to customers".
When it launched, Essential secured over $330 million in funding and at one point, the company had a $1 billion valuation. However, the update that landed on Essential Phones on February 3, 2020, will be its last. While you won't get any future updates, the Essential Phone has already gotten more support than most devices.
Background: Rubin left Google in late 2014 with a $90 million exit package, following accusations of sexual misconduct that weren't revealed until years later.
We suspect Project Gem would've also struggled to stand out in the market when the current craze is foldable phones.
If you are keen on smartphone tinkering, Essential will be posting a pre-build of its vendor image as well as anything else needed to hack the Essential Phone to GitHub.
As an added bonus, the premium Newton Mail service, which Essential acquired in 2018, is shutting down as well.