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Essential shipped fewer than 90,000 Essential Phone units in 2017

The low number shows how difficult it is for a startup like Essential to perform well in a mature smartphone market.

Published onFebruary 12, 2018

  • Research firm IDC announced that Essential shipped fewer than 90,000 units during its phone’s first six months.
  • IDC did not say how many phones were sold, but the number is likely less that 88,000.
  • The number points to a mature smartphone market that makes it difficult for a startup to crack into.

According to industry research firm IDC, Essential shipped 88,000 units since its debut flagship smartphone launched in July 2017. The goodwill that Andy Rubin’s outfit won back after its rocky launch did not translate to sales, it seems.

IDC research director Francisco Jeronimo took to Twitter to unveil the statistic. Jeronimo did not say how many units were actually sold, though we could imagine that number being smaller than the 88,000 that shipped.

. @Arubin‘s @essential smartphone is still a long way from becoming a successful venture. In 2017, it shipped less than 90K units (first six months after launch)
— Francisco Jeronimo (@fjeronimo) February 12, 2018

This is a reminder that, regardless of Andy Rubin’s reputation and expertise, Essential is still a startup. Manufacturers like Samsung, Huawei, Xiaomi, and even Apple are well-known figures in the smartphone market and have been for years. This is a tougher climate for newcomers to penetrate than it was in 2014, when OnePlus debuted the OnePlus One and took off.

It did not help that Essential weathered a tough 2017. When the Essential Phone debuted, it was criticized for its then-$700 price tag, shoddy image quality, and software that was not well optimized for the hardware. In my time with the phone, I experienced issues like poor cell reception and jittery software, issues that continue to affect devices today.

Essential Phone gets another major camera update, adds Auto-HDR mode

Essential has since permanently discounted its phone to $500, constantly pushed out software updates, and maintained a constant presence on Reddit with its monthly AMAs. As it relates to software updates, Essential is still pushing camera updates and plans to release Android 8.1 Oreo soon.

The company clearly wants as much goodwill and momentum as possible going into the eventual Essential Phone sequel. With margins seemingly razor-thin, it remains to be seen whether Essential can continue to push forward.

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