Essential Throws in the Towel

Posted on February 12, 2020 by Paul Thurrott in Android, Mobile with 7 Comments

Erstwhile smartphone maker Essential announced today that it will cease operations and shut down the company after a disastrous five-year run and only a single hardware release, the controversial PH-1.

“We have made the difficult decision to cease operations and shutdown Essential,” a terse announcement on the company’s website reads. “As part of the company wind down, the security update for PH-1 released on February 3 is the last update from the Essential software team. Your PH-1 will continue to work but we will not be providing any additional updates or customer support.”

Essential was started in 2015 by Android inventor and ex-Google executive Andy Rubin. It revealed its first—and only—smartphone, the PH-1, in May 2017, but struggled to ship the devices for the next several months. The PH-1 was never successful, despite a few innovative touches, and Essential never delivered some planned accessories. And then Rubin took a leave of absence when news broke that he had left Google acrimoniously in the wake of a sexual scandal. By October 2018, the layoffs had begun, and by 2019, the firm had moved on to software, despite a curious October 2019 announcement about a new hardware design.

Among Essential’s hardware efforts was an email application called Newton that the firm purchased in late 2018. But like so much else that Essential did, Newton was allowed to simply fester, and it was never improved or changed after the purchase.

“Current Newton Mail users will have access to the service through April 30, 2020,” Essential’s final announcement notes.

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