Misery loves company, and Essential has just bought some. CloudMagic's eponymous email app was once a pretty appealing offering with an unbeatable price tag of free. That was before it was rebranded as Newton Mail and had a hefty $49.99 annual subscription fee slathered on it in September 2016. As you can guess, that didn't go over very well, and Newton Mail was officially put out of its misery on September 25th. Now Essential, a startup with a not-so-glamorous trajectory of its own, has acquired CloudMagic. The financial terms of the deal are unclear.
India-based Mint first reported the acquisition, citing two people familiar with the transaction. An Essential spokesperson had this vague response to inquiries: "We are always on the lookout for companies with great technology and talent to help accelerate our product roadmap."
That product roadmap has been a bit of a head-scratcher this year. After plans for a sequel to the PH-1 were reportedly scrapped, Bloomberg got wind of Essential's plans to build an AI-powered phone with a small screen that would be controlled mostly with voice commands. The report, published in October, included this nugget: "The idea is for the product to book appointments or respond to emails and text messages on its own, according to the people familiar with the plans." It seems sensible to surmise that Essential will attempt to deploy its newly acquired CloudMagic talent to help fulfill this auto-reply vision.
Shortly after Essential's plans for a second phone were reported, the company confirmed that it had laid off about 30% of its workforce, a move that mostly impacted its hardware and sales teams. The acquisition of CloudMagic isn't the worst way for Essential to end the year, and it'll be interesting to see just how much it accelerates the debut of its next supposed product.