It's being reported by the Wall Street Journal that Amazon is among the companies which contributed to Essentials $300 million coffers. They also reveal that Best Buy and Amazon will be retail partners for the upcoming phone launch. The best bit of news, though, comes in the form of a set of dates. Although we still have no idea when the phone will launch (Essential has now very much overshot its 'end of the month' June prediction), Essential president Niccolo de Masi says, "I will give you an exact date in a week."
Andy Rubin also tweeted out some confirmation of next week's expected announcement.
We knew that Essential had raised $300 million back in June, and although a few of the companies that were involved had been divulged, the sources for some of the cash remained a mystery. Foxconn was known to be an investor, and although the WSJ seems to think Tencent's name is new in connection to Essential, it isn't. Bloomberg reported on Tencent Holdings' involvement in Essential's Series B fundraising a bit over two months ago (and so did we). Amazon's name is a bit of a surprise, though.
With Essential making an Alexa-competitor called "Home," it's unusual that Amazon would want to fund what could end up being a direct competitor. It's even more surprising that no one at Essential would have considered that Amazon's financial involvement might be a conflict. Amazon also isn't listed on the company's site as an investor, and Amazon's Alexa Fund doesn't include Essential in its listing, either. It's certainly interesting news, though.
It's good that Essential has a couple of retail channels lined up for its PH-1. We already knew the phone would probably be for sale over at Best Buy. But the convenience of expanded retail availability will certainly make it easier for consumers to pick one up, especially combined with the deal the company has with Sprint. Let's hope that Essential doesn't miss this new date they've set for themselves, even if all it represents is a promise to finally reveal the actual release date.
- Wall Street Journal