back to article Android creator Andy Rubin's firm might think its phone is Essential, but 30% of staff are not

The phone startup founded by Andy Rubin – creator of WebTV, the Sidekick and Android – has reportedly laid off 30 per cent of its staff. Essential is still in the game, but only just. A spokesperson told Bloomberg that Essential had "a sharpened product focus" and promised a "truly game changing consumer product". So far it …

  1. 0laf Silver badge

    Make a product and say it will be revolutionary then unveil it as basically the same thing everyone else sells but with worse support and higher costs.

    Stand in front of investors aghast that the world hasn't snapped up your 95% identical-to-every-other-phone-but-costs-more product and then promise that the NEXT product will be truely revolutionary and can he have some more money?

    Fool me once....

    Smart phones are a utility/white goods item now. You don't get many truely revolutionary developments in white goods from startups, maybe once a generation. Dyson is probably the only company that has done it and a lot of their kudos is snake-oil and marketing. The shine is off Dyson from many of the former customers I've spoken to (also being a former customer).

    1. a_yank_lurker Silver badge

      @Olaf - The phone market is relatively mature market, as you noted. Not much room for a major innovation that is obsoletes all phones upon release. New 'features' will be added but they are mostly yawns.

    2. Persona

      "snake-oil and marketing"

      Yes Dyson advertising a vacuum cleaner that has filters in it and claiming "no loss of suction" springs to mind.

    3. Vector

      "Stand in front of investors aghast that the world hasn't snapped up your 95% identical-to-every-other-phone-but-costs-more product..."

      You mean the one they offered in a semi-exclusive tie-up with the last place cell-provider in the US? Can't imagine why that went wrong...

    4. xanda

      Just another clone...

      "Stand in front of investors aghast that the world hasn't snapped up your 95% identical-to-every-other-phone-but-costs-more product..."

      Hear hear.

      Especially as the Essential phone is $499. Really? An Essential product costing that much? He obviously didn't take a leaf out of Tesco's idea on an essential, value product...

      As for Dysons: they suck proper (no pun intended) and have merely filled the world with more plastic bags instead of the paper, biodegradable sort. Naughty - very naughty. :-(

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    This time selling the "startup" may not work....

    ... probably there's a limit to the number of "phone startups" you can sell.... and the market is pretty saturated now.

  3. Steve K Silver badge

    Automatic Responses

    ...automatically respond to messages on their behalf"

    Maybe missing the point, but isn't this a step too far?

    If it's already responded to a message (i.e. more than just an Out-Of-Office!) then how does it inform me what it has done without introducing an additional step (which means I might as well have done it myself)?

    Additionally what is this hardware device doing that an App/Bot running on a PC/phone/cloud service couldn't do without needing another device to carry around?

    Coupled with the recent Palm phone companion device (and the Kyocera/DoCoMo device just announced) it seems that someone else has unfortunately beaten Rubin to it again.

    1. ma1010 Silver badge

      Re: Automatic Responses

      One use for such a robot might be to connect all incoming spam calls directly to Lenny (for those not familiar with Lenny, see here).

      In Eon and Eternity, Greg Bear talks about the use of "partial personalities" stored in a computer to handle routine tasks for the original person, so this might get some traction someday. Although with today's "tech" it's likely going to be pretty shite.

  4. Version 1.0 Silver badge

    Tech is shite

    Tech companies believe that technology is the answer to everything but it's starting to look like all these "smart" products are going to be the end of everything ... compare an evening on Facebook, Twitter, Hangouts, Instagram while your smart TV displays advert relevant to your Twitter posts versus an evening sitting outside the pub with a glass of beer and reading a book.

  5. BigAndos

    I hate how addicted I am to my phone, tablet etc. On a recent holiday I decided not to pay for data roaming and just unplug. I caved in to free wifi occasionally but actually felt much better for properly switching off, with 90% of my screen time reading books on Kindle. I was also shocked at how many people were even worse than I normally am. We did a beautiful hike on Hong Kong island with stunning scenery and saw group after group people doing said hike while staring at their phones! HK airport even has signs on all the travelators saying "please don't just stare at your phone look where you're going"!

    1. Hollerithevo Silver badge

      Leave the phone at home

      I've now started leaving everything but my Kobo e-reader* at home when on hols, and suddenly I have my holidays back. And it turns out that nothing that's happened while I was off-grid was essential for me to know. And now I look at things, rather than taking photos. And, spookily, I reflect, I muse, I take time to enjoy the here and now. It began when I was once on hols far from any signal at all and it was a light-bulb moment. I actually come back from my breaks refreshed!

      *for the plane

      1. TonyJ Silver badge

        Re: Leave the phone at home

        I take mine with me but it gets locked in the safe and checked maybe once a day.

        But equally, except for the exceptional, I refuse to take work calls in an evening or weekends. Yes, there are and have been exceptions but they just that.

        One boss tried to castigate me a few years ago because he couldn't get a hold of me during my holiday and I didn't return his calls (whilst on holiday - he seemed to think I should make myself available). This was in the same conversation he informed me I wasn't up to par because I only worked my contracted hours unless there was an exception, whereas he worked from 07:30 to 23:30 six days a week.

        He was most upset when I laughed at him and explained more fool him.

        What's the point of living in a connected world if we never connect with it?

  6. Steve 114
    Thumb Up

    Digital substraction

    Did you say 'Saudi-backed', or Saudi hacked? Mind your fingers!

  7. Kimo

    The phone ain't half bad...

    But I picked one up when Amazon had it for $250 and after many updates to the camera app. The build quality is top notch, and at that price it was a steal even at the risk of becoming an orphan product.

    It is too bad they keep changing what they want to make. The first phone was overpriced but gaining some traction as the price became reasonable. I think they could have made a go as a phone company if they had stuck to it and built the promised accessories (their web page is full of things I want to buy, but will never see the light of day). But it seemed like every week they changed focus between phones, home automation, HD audio, and whatever else.

  8. Jason Hindle

    So Essential essentially a US Wiley Fox?

    Trading on Rubin’s name?

  9. DrXym Silver badge

    I really liked the look of the Essential phone

    Personally I thought it was a very interesting phone. One of the first that I know of that had a "notch". It even had a notch even before people claimed Apple invented it.

    Sadly the price turned out to be a major turnoff. It would have sold like hotcackes if it were OnePlus priced.

  10. Christian Berger Silver badge

    Well he buildt exactly the product reviewers wanted...

    Every feature of that phone is what reviewers cared about in their reviews, but none of those features is about what people actually want. The result is a phone that's highly reviewed, but nobody wants to buy.

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