Andy Rubin’s Essential Phone Venture Closes Down

Essential, the mobile phone venture founded by one of the creators of Google’s Android, Andy Rubin, has closed down.

Founded back in 2015, the venture finally released its one and only phone, dubbed the Essential Phone, in May 2017.

Silicon UK at the time reported that the Essential Phone sported a titanium and ceramic clad blocky rectangular design that houses a near bezel-less 5.7 inch display. Also included were a fingerprint scanner, as well as a dual 13MP lens camera, one capturing in colour the other in monochrome.

Essential closure

The venture had hoped to release a number of phones, as well as a smart home speaker and its own operating system.

Ever since October it had been working on a slim phone it called ‘Project Gem’.

But with just one phone released, Essential announced it was closing down in a blog post.

“Despite our best efforts, we’ve now taken Gem as far as we can and regrettably have no clear path to deliver it to customers,” said the venture. “Given this, we have made the difficult decision to cease operations and shutdown Essential.”

“We are incredibly grateful to our employees in Palo Alto and Bangalore as well as our global partners for their help and dedication bringing this concept to life,” it said. “As part of the company wind down, the security update for PH-1 released on 3 February is the last update from the Essential software team.”

“Your PH-1 will continue to work but we will not be providing any additional updates or customer support,” the venture said. “To the Essential and Newton Mail communities, we offer our deepest thanks for your support and passion for our vision. You motivated us, kept us on our toes and made it all worthwhile.”

The company has reportedly shared its software on coding site Github so developers can “keep hacking” the device.

Meanwhile, Essential’s cross-platform email software, Newton Mail, will be discontinued in April, the BBC reported.

Father of Android

Rubin founded Android back in October 2003 with Rich Miner, Nick Sears and Chris White, with the aim of “smarter mobile devices that are more aware of its owner’s location and preferences”.

His abrupt departure from Google in 2013 left many people surprised, as he had helped Google establish a firm foothold in the mobile space which it has maintained to this day.

He officially left the company in November 2014 having handed over the Android reins to Sundar Pichai (who of course is now CEO of both Google and Alphabet).

In more recent times, Rubin has been dragged into the controversy surrounding alleged sexual harassment at Google.

In 2018 a New York Times article alleged that Google had protected three senior executives from allegations of sexual misconduct, which allegedly included Andy Rubin.

Rubin however has denied the sexual misconduct allegations and has said that the New York Times story contained ‘numerous inaccuracies,’ and wild exaggerations about his compensation.

Quiz: What do you know about Android?

Tom Jowitt @TJowitt

Tom Jowitt is a leading British tech freelancer and long standing contributor to Silicon UK. He is also a bit of a Lord of the Rings nut...

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