After launching one of the most hyped Android phones in recent years, Essential came to a sad end in the wake of the Andy Rubin controversy. The company still has a cult following and many are still using the Essential PH-1 despite the fact that it's no longer being supported. Those users will be excited to learn that a bunch of former employees are now part of a new company called OSOM Products, founded by Essential's head of R&D Jason Keats.
Andy Rubin's Essential launched its first phone in 2017, and it turns out that will be its only phone. After making some news last year with the bizarre Project GEM prototype, Essential has now announced that it won't be releasing that device or any other. Essential will shut down, effective immediately.
Yesterday, I posted (and shared via Android Police's official Twitter account) that Android Police will no longer be accepting any access from Andy Rubin's startup Essential. That means no more press conferences, briefings, embargoes, or review devices. This came in light of Rubin's announcement of the company's new phone, apparently called GEM.
In the time between the announcement of the PH-1 over two years ago and yesterday's tease of GEM, a significant story about Rubin was published: The New York Times reported he was paid $90 million to leave Google in connection with a serious and, according to Google's own internal investigation, "credible" allegation that he coerced another Google employee into having sexual relations with him.
It turns out that the folding phone isn't the only weird form factor these days. Andy Rubin, the man behind Essential, just posted the first photos of the company's upcoming phone on Twitter. It's quite the departure from the PH-1, but if you like how tall Sony's 21:9 phones are, you're in for a real treat.
Who responds to a nine-month-old tweet with news about an upcoming phone announcement? Andy Rubin, apparently. The Founder and CEO of Essential may be going through a (likely very messy) divorce, but he took the time today to respond to a near-ancient Twitter discussion telling folks to "hang tight" and that his company would "make an announcement" in regards to tweets encouraging Essential to release another phone.
Much less work is getting done at Google offices around the world today as thousands of employees have walked off the job in protest. At issue is the way Google handles sexual harassment claims, spurred by the recent news that Android co-founder Andy Rubin was paid a $90 million severance after another Googler accused him of harassment. The organizers hope this protest will draw attention to the issue and improve workplace safety and equality.
Nearly a year ago, Andy Rubin took a leave of absence from Essential, after The Information alleged that he was in an inappropriate relationship with a subordinate while he led the Android team at Google. Rubin returned to Essential not long after, but now more details about his time at Google have been released by The New York Times.
Essential may be at work on making an AI-focused alternative smartphone that operates mainly on voice commands, but it'll have to do so with a significantly reduced staff. Essential has confirmed that it is laying off a large portion of its staff, which Bloomberg reports amounts to roughly 30 percent of the 120-person workforce — mainly in the hardware and sales divisions.
While Essential's first device has a cult following among those who prioritize quick Android updates, it became clear in May that it would never see a follow-up. A report from Bloomberg revealed that the company had canceled a second Essential Phone and put itself up for sale. However, over the past several months, the company has quietly chugged along, continuing to push out lightning-fast security patches. Now, a new report from Bloomberg states that the company is indeed working on a second device — but it's not at all like its first product. According to the publication's tipsters, the handset is an anti-smartphone with a small screen that relies primarily on voice commands.