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Essential reportedly cancels next smartphone, company may be up for sale (Updated: More details)

The unconfirmed report comes less than a year after Essential Products' first phone launched, which was not a sales success.

Published onMay 24, 2018

Update #2: In an internal email sent to employees, Essential CEO Andy Rubin said that “no one (including me at this moment) knows what the best thing for the company will be.”

In the email obtained by The Information, Rubin went on to say that Essential will not shut down and that the company is “working with bankers to raise money.” Even though Essential reportedly raised over $300 million, it sounds like the company will soon reach the bottom of the well.

Rubin also said that the discussions with bankers might include talk about a possible acquisition, though nothing has been confirmed yet. Bloomberg reported that there is at least one unnamed bidder that expressed interest in buying Essential, though no decision was made.

Rubin also lamented the Bloomberg report and said it “will not position us well for optimizing” Essential’s fundraising effort.

Update: Andy Rubin has commented on the Bloomberg report, stating that the company always has multiple products in development and that it embraces canceling some in favor of others. Read the full quote below:

We always have multiple products in development at the same time and we embrace canceling some in favor of the ones we think will be bigger hits. We are putting all of our efforts towards our future, game-changing products, which include mobile and home products.
— Andy Rubin (@Arubin) May 24, 2018

Original article: The sage of Essential Products may be coming to a fast and abrupt end. A new report from Bloomberg, citing unnamed sources, claims that the company, founded by Android’s co-creator Andy Rubin, has canceled development of its second smartphone, less than a year after the first Essential Phone was officially announced.

The same report also claims that Essential has hired a financial firm, Credit Suisse Group AG, to look into selling off the entire company, adding that at least one unnamed bidder has expressed some interest. For its part, a spokesperson for Essential would not comment on Bloomberg’s claims.

If the reports are true, it would be a spectacular end for Essential, which got a ton of media attention before and after the launch of its first phone. The reveal of the company itself first broke in January 2017, with Rubin acting as CEO of a team composed of former Apple and Google employees. The company, which was part of Rubin’s tech incubator Playground Global, reportedly raised over $300 million for Essential, and it was valued at one time at nearly $1 billion.

Essential Phone in 2018: Fantastic, if you don't care about your camera

The launch of the first Essential Phone finally happened in late August 2017. The phone itself had some high-end hardware, along with a nearly bezel-free display that was one of the first examples of a smartphone with a version of a “notch.” We noted in our review of the Essential Phone that, while it had some great hardware specs, the software was nearly a stock version of Android with little else that was special. Its camera also suffered from some serious problems.

The Essential Phone was first priced at $699 unlocked, and it was also sold via Sprint. However, just two months after shipments began, the price of the phone went down to just $499. Some reports claimed that the phone had shipped less than 90,000 units by the end of 2017. Essential kept releasing software updates for the phone, and just a few weeks ago it was one of the few third-party phones picked to support the Android P beta.

Rubin and Essential had announced plans to release more hardware products, including a smart speaker called Essential Home. However, it looks like all of those plans may never come to fruition.

We will update this story as more details arise.

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