I believe there's still a lot of room for innovation in smartphones. But if your whole company is riding on your first product, I think it produces a lot of weird design pressure. You simultaneously want to be low risk and super edgy. While trying integrate a lot of new people, new partners, and (hopefully) new tech. Getting an industry-beater in one go under those conditions seems like winning the lottery.
1. Not falling behind the curve. It seemed they couldn't stick to a deadline because each time they tried to, they would identify a newer cooler hardware feature that "had to be in". Doesn't help to do this when you don't have an established brand.
2. Incestuous hiring practises where it was based on brand name of canditates' school and past companies instead of focussing on indicators of execution and expertise!
3. No sense of urgency. In Andy we Trust!
What that means to Essential's bottom line is not clear. It would be difficult to even consider the assumption of the revenue of $44M for them.
My personal experience is a polar opposite of this.
I myself worked with few companies doing private label handsets. It is a near foolproof business.
You go to an ODM, put money first for a respin of a successful product under your brand, then you dump the batch on TaoBao, Aliexpress, and trade companies. This will stably gain you profits in single digits, and at about %15 if you have some luck along with real insight into doing things like that.
Should Andy be more easy on pricing, and also "simply dump the product off an online marketplace," he would've been in black by now.
> The phone’s initial price was $699, the same as an iPhone viewed as a competitor. At that price, the company sold as few as 20,000 units across its website and third-party distribution partners, one of the people said. Last October, Essential lowered the price by $200, which boosted sales. The company has sold at least 150,000 to date, according to the person familiar with the company.
So that's 20,000 * $699 + 150,000 * $499 ~ $89M
Except it isn't. Many were sold at heavy discount.
Perhaps if they hadn't hyped it up so much before release, there would have been less disappointment.
It's completely natural and sensible to enter a market with a product that is inferior in some aspects, but has a huge USP, which this phone had.
I wonder if it might be time for him to branch out into a new domain, I feel like there may just be too much common ground that's already been covered before.
Soon after he left, Alphabet sold BD to Softbank.
Which is more likely to succeed, 1 attempt or 3 attempts?
Essential had neither of these approaches.
Doomed strategy from the start.
In my opinion, there are 3 major features that are immediately obvious, yet always overlooked by OEMs that are such low hanging fruit that I'm constantly amazed that no manufacturer has put them all together. They aren't even all that interesting either, the only reason they haven't caught on is that all the also-ran's have tunnel vision about playing copycat with Samsung and Apple.
1. Battery life. Seriously, we could have phones with 4+ days of battery life if we'd only stopped making them thinner to the point where the rear camera sticks out, effectively ruining the aesthetic of thinness. We've also sacrificed the 3.5mm jack in the pursuit of the most anorexic phones imaginable and all for what? A feeling of awe when we open the box of a new phone which only lasts 10 seconds before we throw it in a case which makes it as thick as an OG Motorola Droid?
2. Stock Android. Stock Android. Stock Android. I will never buy anything but a phone running stock Android (or maybe a dumbphone once Big Brother Google pushes me over the edge). Even the most technically illiterate users recognize that stock Android (whether they know what that means) is vastly superior to the Samsung Galaxy Whatever they just traded in.
3. Durability/Ease of Repair. Modern phones have become less fragile in many ways (waterproofing) but the screens and batteries are still weak points. Glass can never be made shatter-proof and lithium ion batteries will always lose a significant amount of charge capacity after being cycled several hundred times (a fault made worse by fitting a phone with a battery that often requires 2+ charges a day). So how do you fix this? Easy, just make the screens and batteries easy to replace like those of older iPhones. This works directly in conjunction with point #1 as we've been forced to accept bonded screens and sealed back panels as a result of the thinness wars.
Extra Credit: You know how you can get my money as well as the money of everyone I know? Bring back the landscape QWERTY keyboard. There hasn't been a phone since the Droid 2 that could lay claim to being anything more than a lower midrange design. The first company to do all of the above will make waves, I promise you.
Not even close to reality. Tech savvy users recognise stock android occasionally however when I worked telco sales frequently the thing that got the sale across the line was some kind of gimmicky feature/addition the manufacturer had integrated. The average user couldn’t even tell iOS and Android apart as long as it had the Facebook app installed.
Manufacturers should of course recognise the massive saving to be had by developing only minimal customisation and being able to quickly roll out updates/new features in the latest Android releases.
You're right in that gimmicks move phones in a retail environment. When a consumer will only give ~1 minute's worth of attention (at best) to each phone in the store, selective pressure rewards flashy gimmicks that leave the greatest immediate impression. The thing is, there is a huge portion of consumers who have moved to buying phones online based on research conducted entirely through online sources. The tech-savvy reviewers who these consumers are likely to come across are always vociferously supportive of any attempt to use stock/stockish Android. That bullet point always gets a favorable mention even if the total sum of the phone's features leads to a poor review. Build a following among those who make informed and objective decisions and eventually you'll get the attention of the retail/tech illiterate consumer.
That's how Samsung managed to become the king of the Android world, the Galaxy S was the first decent phone hardware-wise that could be flashed to stock or custom ROMs that fixed the issues with early versions of Android. The Galaxy S, S II, and Galaxy Nexus became the phones for the tech-savvy Android crowd and their objectively supported recommendations to less savvy friends and family created a sales tsunami that kept rolling long after Samsung abandoned the key feature (making flagship quality phones that were hacker friendly) that led to their success in the first place.
I never knew anyone that would burn custom ROMs on their Samsungs.
Engineers make up a tiny percentage of phone buyers, and a feature list that will excite engineers has very little in common with a list that will make most consumers hand over money.
How is that differentiating yourself?
"The first company to do all of the above will make waves, I promise you."
I highly doubt it. For one, hardware keyboards are expensive to do right, and they add to the repair costs and warranty costs of the phone. Doing it means either making your phone more expensive (read: Fewer people will buy it) or using cheaper parts elsewhere (read: Most people who claim to want hardware keyboards will complain about this, and then not buy it).
Cause nobody else does it.
Ny past three phones have also been Motorola, because they are basic, well-made devices with close to stock Android. I really hope that Motorola keep differentiating themselves by shipping phones that don't have gimmicks.
I have Xiaomi Mi A1, which is Android One, and it's amazing.
HTC is selling one too, I think. Motorola also maybe
Android One are stock Android phones, and I get updates once a month more or less. It actually delivers on its premise
Also, I think Elemental phone or whatever was the name had stock Android
The entire Nokia (HMD) line is Android One. With LTS commitments on every android phone they release.
I picked up a cheap Nokia 6 a couple months ago and was pleasantly surprised to see it actually OTA updates with no nonsense and actually works on voLTE.
Nobody but technically inclined users care that much about battery life anymore. For most people, you can throw a rock and hit a phone that has all day battery life. People are used to charging their phones nightly.
People will take a battery life improvement, but it's not a driver. Many manufacturers have slapped in giant batteries or included battery modules, removable back cases that allow for double life batteries. None have caught on, because really. If I have to charge it once a day or twice if I'm using it for games all day or something, then what is the difference? Have a charger at work, a charger at home and a decent phone, and you'll never have a battery life issue. I don't think I've depleted my iPhone X once and I've owned it since day one.
> Stock Android
Another thing nobody but techies care about, and even they are mixed. I know plenty of people who prefer modern TouchWiz, or more likely, simply don't care. Caring about stock Android really only applies to those who spend most of their time in the launcher or OS, which isn't most people. For most, their phone is a gateway to apps, and this goes double for Android phones.
If the primary use of your phone is launching Instagram, Snapchat, WhatsApp, Gmail & Facebook, then who the hell cares what the launcher interface is? Most younger and less technical users don't even use the dialer or contacts or other apps people typically leave stock.
> Durability/Ease of Repair
I can't believe people can actually say this with a straight face. Once again, the last thing on people's list. It's far and away a nice to have, not anything that actually influences a purchasing decision for a significant number of people. For those that it does matter to, they'll just slap it in a case anyways. It also requires a boatload of design compromises to make things easier to repair.
> Bring back the landscape QWERTY keyboard
The icing on the cake. I don't know who you know, but seriously, nobody wants a hardware keyboard. Most people under 30 (y'know, the people who buy new phones frequently and use them as primary computers) would actually be significantly slower on a hardware keyboard, regardless of layout.
What you've described is a giant phone, double or triple the size of any other normal between the massive battery, use of durable materials and durable slider mechanism. Nobody wants this. You might, and some of your friends might, but any company that took a run at actually making this phone would have abysmal sales.
You make a ton of assumptions here, all of which smack of someone who hasn't spoken to a normal consumer or someone under 30 in a long time. I suggest hanging around retail for a little bit, because you're in for a rude awakening.
Things people actually care about in a phone, in rough order:
1. OS - This is tied for the next two for number one. Nobody gives a shit about stock Android, but most are pretty set in one camp or the other in regards to iOS v Android at this point. People do switch though, so its not the highest priority for all.
2. Screen Size - Massive consideration. Many want a giant screen, many want a manageable screen, both are pretty set in their ways.
3. Camera - I can't count the number of times people have asked me for a phone recommendation and had this as their number one concern. I put the other two first because they tend to have those decided before speaking to me, so they are typically more important. Camera quality, as subjective as that can be, can really sell a phone.
4. Design - Gasp! Weight, thickness, materials. Actually really important. It may not show up on a spec list, but people do make decisions based on this even if they aren't acutely aware.
5. Price - For many this is the number one factor, but for many it's not even on the list so it's hard to know where to place this one in terms of order.
6. Cool new features - Hugely important, triggers upgrades. The giant OLED screen & FaceID sold plenty of people on the iPhone X. "What can this phone do that my phone can't" is a strong driver of upgrades that aren't required due to a failing/broken phone.
That is very far from the truth. Just look at the scramble around power outlets in all sorts of public places from cafes to trains. People are desperate to recharge their phones.
Stories of phones running out of battery are now as much part of folklore as not having coins for payphones was a few decades back.
Go to any Android or iOS support forum and you will find that battery draining questions are a major category. And it's plain to see that it isn't just techies asking these questions.
Battery is also _the_ limiting factor for the tasks phones are suitable for. CPUs, especially on iPhones, are capable of so much more than what the battery allows.
> Go to any Android or iOS support forum
The average consumer will never post to any support form in their entire lives. /r/iOSbeta was all battery life posts until they were banned because they cluttered up the subreddit, because of course that will be a common issue.
> Battery is also _the_ limiting factor for the tasks phones are suitable for.
But we don't have an answer for that. All GP is suggesting is slapping in a giant battery. That won't solve the problem at all. If someone has a breakthrough solution for multi-day battery life that isn't just "throw in a bigger battery and to hell with design" then that would be a game changer.
However, is it a major driver in purchases? No. Like I said, there have been plenty of "big ass battery" devices, none have been successful, because it's not a significant driver of sales.
Not true. If it were true the Blackberry KeyONE wouldn't have been the moderate success that it was. Clearly TCL believe that QWERTY phones are viable as they've just announced the Blackberry Key2.
My better-half has not one, but two, KeyONEs - one for work, and one for personal use. They are very nice, well built phones with a pretty good spec. If you type stuff all day, then they are a great option.
At the end of the day, keyboardless and keyboard phones CAN co-exist. I was just disagreeing that with the point that no-one wants a keyboard phone.
Perhaps glib. I could have clarified further but "a keyboard phone could carve out a small but somewhat lucrative niche amongst people who refuse to get used to software keyboards, people over 30-40, and people who owned devices that sport hardware keyboards in the past but they are ultimately doomed to irrelevancy in the long run" is less pithy.
Ok, well I come from the land of BlackBerry, and I have seen maybe one person with this phone in the wild. Keep in mind that BlackBerry was still a significant force here until years after it was dead everywhere else.
Just out of curiosity, how old is your better-half? Did they have a hardware keyboard device in the past?
Umm, I want a phone with the latest security updates, since it holds very personal information I don't want it to have unpatched access. Phones with Stock Android - on average - get more updates/faster updates  (if at all). Also Stock Android gets rid of manufacturer code which can affect apps, for instance some Huawei phones, on Nougat, have USB-OTG disabled in the skin, accessible otherwise with LOS.
 Phones like Pixel, Android One program, Sony, Nokia, OnePlus (https://www.computerworld.com/article/3257607/android/androi...)
You can find someone tethered to a wall outlet in almost any public space these days. The apps which the younger set use most frequently (photo, video, and data heavy social media apps) are also enormous battery hogs. Facebook and Snapchat in particular are the source of more "my phone is on 2%, can I borrow your charger?" requests than anything else.
Durability/Ease of Repair:
Go to any high school or college campus and count the number of phones you see with cracked screens. I can't even count the number of people I know who have been stuck using a phone with a busted screen until they're eligible for an upgrade or able to afford a new one. Back in the days of the iPhone 4, a broken screen was a $50 fix. Now it is a mark of shame that lasts until you buy a new phone because replacing a screen is either not feasible at all or far too expensive to justify (this applies more to phones in the $250-300 range)
Bring back the landscape QWERTY keyboard:
I'll admit this is heavily biased by my curmudgeonliness because I loved my OG Droid and Droid 2, but there's something to be said about a feature that helped those 2 phones rack up huge sales figures but hasn't been seriously tried ever since. In relation to its appeal among the younger set, the amount of horrific typos and "oops, autocorrect screwed that up" I see across all forms of content generated on software keyboards is enormous. People may be "faster" with software keyboards but the speed means nothing when they either butcher their point or have to edit/send a second message to correct their mistakes. Also, the proportion of smartphone users who actually use swipe style predictive input and those who hunt and peck is skewed heavily toward the peckers.
You make good points in relation to camera quality and cost but I see those as inherently "solved" problems in today's smartphone market. There are dozens of phones with great cameras, copying what they're doing is both easy and not a real differentiator. Any feature I neglected to mention can be covered under the heading of "just don't screw it up", there's no excuse for fucking something up when you have dozens of examples of how to do things right. As far as cost is concerned, it's obviously factor #1 these days as the "mid range" is continually eaten away by pressure from unceasingly good budget phones and the "flagship" price point becomes unattainable to startups that can't create an entire supply chain to support the latest whizbang innovations. I still think there's room for a phone like I've described at the $400-500 price point, whether that's achievable with the landscape QWERTY is the real question.
It is like using fvwm instead of Enlightenment.
Hence why many common users always install an Android theme when the phone comes with Stock UI.
I use the Nokia 8. Works great.
The Blackview A20 that's listed there is a pretty cheap phone.
Want to make a poignant, subtle art-house film? Go for it. Want to make a blockbuster sequel which will be predictably profitable? Go for it. But please don't raise money like you're doing the latter and then do the former. Steve Jobs said, "Real artist ship." And given his record at Apple, I suspect he'd agree that real artists ship things people want.
"We did iTunes because we all love music. We made what we thought was the best jukebox in iTunes. Then we all wanted to carry our whole music libraries around with us. The team worked really hard. And the reason that they worked so hard is because we all wanted one. You know? I mean, the first few hundred customers were us."
"It's not about pop culture, and it's not about fooling people, and it's not about convincing people that they want something they don't. We figure out what we want. And I think we're pretty good at having the right discipline to think through whether a lot of other people are going to want it, too. That's what we get paid to do."
Looking at old screenshots on Google seems to agree.
Are you calling Andy Rubin a "genius?" I'm familiar with his career, but I'm not familiar with any evidence he is a genius. Care to elaborate? And this is not a dig at him, I just don't perceive him to be a genius.
Just upvoting this quote.
Sorry just genuinely confused and search returned nothing on google stones ;(
PS. cant even ask a genuine question without being downvoted into oblivion; HN became just another reddit :(
I'm pretty sad. I've had four Nexuses, a Galaxy S and an iPhone and this is probably my favourite. It's camera-problems are well-known, but I really do think it's the best-designed phone on the market today.
Some high notes:
- the notch predates the iPhone X and looks even better because it's so small. The one on the X is so large, they may as well have not bothered.
- The glass-ceramic-titanium is slippery, but a joy to behold. I love the heavy, blocky feel and love idly flipping it around in my hand (I guess I don't need a fidget spinner). The flat sides also have the advantage letting you leave it straight-up on it's sides (ie for camera shots) while simultaneously being rounded enough to be easy to hold.
- flat, unbranded back and general layout is basically what every phone should have.
- The module extension system is probably the best of all the ones that have been tried. I have the 360 camera and it works great.
- speaking of the camera, I love 360 photos. I kickestarted a failed 360 Camera (Bubl) etc, I used to spend a ton of time making photospheres, their camera was fantastic. I love taking photos with it and people actually like looking at them.
- If they had managed to get rid of the chin and shrank the notch a bit (the status bar is 2x as tall as regular Android because of it) on their second phone, it would have been a perfect.
- Apart form the physical stuff, the updates came fast, the storage was generous (128GB) and the UI was uncluttered.
I hope they get picked up by someone, they have a lot of good stuff going for them.
Having a PIN is much more secure, as bandits can't use your appendages to get into your phone. I really don't get why people jumped on the bio-metrics bandwagon so quickly. If my Password or PIN gets compromised I can change it. if your fingerprint, or iris gets cloned there's nothing you can do.
Bio-metric security looks cool in movies, but in real life it's an utterly pointless less-secure gimmick.
Seriously though.. Fast Forward 20 years and the Social Media platform that everyone uses has just 'accidentally' leaked 1bn users bio-metric data to a 3rd party. Good luck re-securing your identity after that.
My point is still valid, you can't change your eyeballs, fingers or face if your bio-metrics get leaked.
If someone malicious has access to me while I'm sleeping I have far greater problems than whatever's on my phone. Same goes for muggers: if I feel threatened I'll happily give my pin away because my integrity is far more important to me than whatever data is on my or my company's device.
If my face fingerprint get cloned the baddies will still need physical access to my phone, which takes us back to my first point: the data in my phone is worth nothing compared to the worth of my physical integrity so it's irrelevant.
Apple does this really well by minimizing the thickness of the notch, filling all four corners with screen, and creating UI concepts that could blissfully integrate the weird screen shape.
Right now I feel this is more about everybody copying Apple because let's be honest, this is what many OEMs do ..
Is it really worth not having stereo front facing speakers and having to add a hole on the screen in order to have it kinda cover the whole front of the phone ?
Am I the only one that looks at the front design of the phone once or twice during the first week and then focus on the content, not the slight chrome around it ?
Creating an engineering problem due to ambitious design, then soaking in the industry scorn and praise, then solving that problem with something new and great is Apples wheelhouse. Competitors who don't see this pattern are doomed.
The Android OEMs are copying the top notch without removing the chin, which doesn't make a lot of sense.
Do you have an essential too?
So here is a guy who grows up dreaming about robots. But instead of doing that he ends up doing startup to make money so he can eventually do robots. He spends best years of his life building phone OS by walking a fine line to clone a work of a genius. And a pretty shitty clone at that. But the guy is so in to robots that he ends up calling this thing "Android" even though its not android. Thing takes off despite being shitty clone because Microsoft had become incompetent to his enormous luck. He becomes rich, powerful and eventually able to demand to get off the shitty clone train to actually do robotics. He goes to GoogleX with essentially carte blank to make his dreams finally come true. The guy goes out and buys up every cool robotics startup out there, spends billions and surrounds himself with some of the best talent on planet. And then he leaves it all to rott. But still... he is ultra rich, can do whatever he wants and he still has some of his productive years left. What does he do? Another phone startup! And again just a clone with minor tweaks at that.
You don't spend 21 years working in a domain you don't like.
And you don't quit managing Google's robotics division after LESS THAN A YEAR to immediately go back to mobile if robots are your lifelong dream. OK, sure, maybe he didn't like Google's robotics strategy or vision, but he was in a prime position to change it from the inside, and that takes longer than a year.
It sounds much more that Robots is a hobby. But his life goal and passion is Mobile.
Also, discounting his successes as just cloning the work of a genius is silly. Firstly, he has a credible role in the historical progression, as the Danger SideKick was a legitimate leader in the field for a few years.
Secondly, Android to iPhone in the 2010's is Windows to Mac in the 1990's. They democratized the platform to give people the freedom of choice.
Although I’d hate to insinuate this is what Rubin did.
Edit: A quick google search says he left Google because of misconduct. Inappropriate sexual relationship with a subordinate.
Edit: I personally admire what he was able to accomplish in mobile but was disappointed when I first heard the new about his mis-conduct. He showed poor judgement, and I didn't expect this of him.
You do realize Android was founded as a company in 2003 and acquired by Google in 2005, and the iPhone was unveiled in 2007? Google of course altered the design direction based on the iPhone, but the first prototypes looked more like Blackberries.
> He goes to GoogleX with essentially carte blank to make his dreams finally come true. The guy goes out and buys up every cool robotics startup out there, spends billions and surrounds himself with some of the best talent on planet.
Sounds pretty fortunate to me. He got his dream to work with robots. Just because he's more famous for a mobile OS that is on more that 50% of all computing devices  doesn't stop the fact that he's still had more opportunity than all the rest of us to work on robotics.
To describe his contributions to mobile as a pale shadow of what Steve Jobs was doing is unfair.
Like what? I had a Sidekick, and I don't remember it doing a "lot more than the original iPhone" at all.
It is very hard to make a decent copy of a great product. This goes for everything, not just phones. There were many others trying to copy the many great ideas packed into the iphone. Even now, its not obvious.
Consider that even for an android as it currently stands -- a phone where you get the OS from Google, and the parts from various known manufacturers -- there is an enormous difference in quality between the different products. Samsung has dominated other phone makers and in theory they should produce comparable product. (Some do, I am sure.)
The same is true of, say, Windows laptops. Some are amazing and some are unusable. But why? They all us the same OS and the parts come from the same handful of manufacturers?
I'll let more knowledgeable people opine as to what the challenges are, but its not easy.
Andy Rubin thinking he could skip this process and just jump in at the top of the market was pure hubris, and as much as I was hoping to see them succeed, it's a little bit reassuring that they failed. Success takes hard work, and essential skipped a lot of that.
If a flagship device came with glaring flaws - even in functionality I rarely use - no way I'm giving them the money unless it's really revolutionary in some other aspect I care about.
So working out initial problems on a budget phone makes sense.
Nexus phones also weren't really successful and weren't intended to be. They were intended to be development devices and for Google to show the direction that they wanted Android to go in. They also didn't build any of them in-house, they were made by HTC, Samsung, LG, Motorola, Huawei, and Asus.
Google's real entry into the smartphone market was with the Pixel which was a direct competitor to the iPhone.
- Nexus 5 was low cost and amazing for the price. I was able to forgive every issue it had. And another international friend also asked me to buy it & ship it to her.
- The 5X was not low cost, but then it could also be bought cheaply through the Google Fi "loophole." I know at least one other person IRL who bought it through the loophole.
For long, Google has mostly sold nexuses in order to have demonstration devices of what Android could/should be.
Also, they needed dev devices for their engineers working on the next Android version anyway so it made sense to go the extra mile and sell a couple of them as well.
I don't think any of them has ever been low budget (below 200$); some have been middle budgets and some other high.
The Nexus 4 has been introduced at 300$ IIRC but it was not the rule by any length.
"Former Android Head Left Due To Sexual Misconduct Claims"
"The woman who filed the complaint reportedly worked in the Android division run by Rubin, which would make any personal relationship between the two violate Google policy; the company requires employees to disclose such relationships so that one of them can be moved to another division. Rubin left the Android department in March 2013 to lead Google’s efforts in robotics, but the HR investigation is said to have taken place in 2014. That investigation, according to The Information, concluded that “Rubin’s behavior was improper and showed bad judgement.”"
The only new brand of smartphone in the last four years I can think of is OnePlus that has had success. OnePlus did this by buying their popularity. By offering a ton of value initially and then raising the price each generation.
Also while price was definitely a huge factor for it's popularity, the main reason IMHO was because it was the first phone that officially supported a popular AOSP at that time - CyanogenMod (now LineageOS ) and it even had the logo branded on the back. Almost everyone I knew with a OP1 phone bought it simply for cyanogenmod and how fast/smooth it ran it with no issues. Remember that when OnePlus 1 was first announced in 2014, android phones were well known to be filled with vendor bloatware (Samsung Galaxy S3,S4 anyone?), expensive, became really slow over time and for those of us that wanted custom ROMs, it was relatively painful to flash/root a stable AOSP on any device. OnePlus 1 was the first phone that I had absolutely no issues with having CyanogenMod on it such that I even turned on nightly updates knowing full well that it was tested at least on a OnePlus device.
So yea, I think OnePlus became popular simply because of price and their official support for CyanogenMod which meant a phone with a fast & responsive running android and most importantly, no bloatware.
Maybe for the tinkering crowd, but I think you vastly overestimate it's importance in becoming a sales hit. I don't have the numbers for how many people flash their phones, but I'd guess less than one in a thousand. They do advance the sales via favorable reviews and recommendations though, I'm sure.
As far as I see, it was simply just the price-quality ratio that made it a success.
There is no way I'm replacing all those with much more expensive bluetooth devices, all of which I need to keep charged. And I'm also not buying six dongles or carrying an adapter with me everywhere.
I just don't get the obsession with getting rid of the jack. I'm sure some people don't need it. And I even get it with Apple; they have a strong sleekness bias and it lets them sell more expensive AirPods. But is everybody else just cargo-culting Apple?
Buying 6 dongles would also only cost $54 ($9 each) which isn't a ridiculous price for an accessory in my opinion, especially if you're buying a high end phone that's going to cost you $700+ anyways.
Personally, I just carry one dongle attached to my keychain and keep one in the car. It hasn't been an issue for me yet.
I'm also not persuaded by the "most people won't base their purchase" argument, as that applies just as well to adding another 5-10% to the battery. Most people don't base their purchase solely on anything. I may have to go by my local phone stores and chat with the staff to see how much this matters in practice to people.
It is a shame too because I think the Amazon Fire phone failed for the very same reason.
In hindsight, the ridiculous invite system that one plus had makes sense now. Maybe they were trying to limit the number of phones sold because each one sold at razor thin profits (possibly at a loss after warranty support).
I would've had a huawei p20 pro right now if that thing carried a 3.5mm jack, as it's one of the very few phones who fills my other requirements.
I don't think it is, everyone is just too afraid of doing something radically different. Essential phone was just another generic midrange Android phablet at a top end flagship price. Until someone completely throws that paradigm away we will be stuck with the bloated nonsense that smartphones have become. I would give ANYTHING for a 5" phone with capacitive touch e-ink display, 3000mAh battery, and a barebones BSD based OS that did nothing but call, text, take pictures, gps, and text-based web browsing.
not a rhetorical question. Does ANYTHING include 20x cost factor?
I wonder what they do in the developing world. Previous gen bloat-phones or simple flip phones, or something market-specific, closer to what you're asking for.
Isn't that pretty much exactly what the light phone2 is?
Not sure if it'll have browsing, but it's got everything else, including an e-ink display, which is probably the hardest feature to comeby in a phone
I've heard whispers of mini PCIe 3G cards that have "unused" pins that actually offer up a USB device. That's how the USB-to-miniPCIe adapters work.
There are also ARM processors that can operate as USB hosts and run Linux or a BSD.
LiPo batteries are cheap and fun to use. The charging circuits are less fun, but there are probably ways to handle it without too much trouble.
And finally, our good friends at AliExpress or eBay have plenty of SPI-driven e-ink displays and probably a few usable digitizers, although you'll have to combine them yourself.
If you ever actually go through with building this, let me know. I looked into it once but lacked the time to ever finish.
There's a whole bunch of phones that do basically what you're looking for.
Aren't they a major Chinese brand? Seems like the message here is that you'd better already be big with deep pockets to wade into the smartphone market.
Is it just me?
So maybe not unique in the literal sense, but a differentiator anyway.
With Amazon going full force on the Alexa hardware (1st and 3rd party) but their only attempt at a phone a failure, I wonder if they will try to pickup Essential and go for a Essential Fire Phone-2?
You have to be like OnePlus and the other Chinese manufacturers: start by offering a good phone at a good price that undercuts Apple and Samsung's stupidly expensive flagships, then gradually work your way up-market. That kind of disruption strategy is the only way to break into smartphones.
In order to sell at the low end, you need to sell a lot. A new company doesn't have the market share to make a low end phone with almost no margin profitable in any reasonable amount of time.
On top of which, people with the money to buy high end phones are the ones with the money to throw away their perfectly fine phone in order to get the latest and greatest toys, and the ones that want to do so so they can brag that they have this cool phone that not that many people know about.
The main problem was not the price, it was the execution. False promises, late releases, poor support, general lack of transparency. The execution was abysmal, but people were willing to pay the price.
These aren't a problem at the low end; at the low end, you sell someone a phone for $100, and they get what they get, and you're done.
Where you can differentiate on the low end, as an Android founder, is building something where you put out a new phone every year, but everything is on the same / close enough to the same / software platform, so your quarterly (or whenever) software updates apply equally to all your devices. Get about $20-$50 spendier each phone you make, and by the time you're at the high end, you've earned a reputation for quality phones with frequent software upgrades, and people will pay the premium for your phones.
OTOH, premium phones on firesale clearance works pretty well for me. Fire phone, Nextbit Robin, etc.
You have to create a sustainable, innovative value proposition. That's easier for a startup to do (much harder for a big company to take a "leap"). Essential thought they had one with their "camera" system, but it didn't catch on.
Carriers are the main distribution channel for phones. You can’t compete with carrier distro.
Chinese manufacturers have more capital and have easier ways to monetize than a small startup. For that matter, Name a Cheap Chinese manufacturer that has been able to break through in the US market? No chinese phone manufacturer has more than 8% of the market in the US.
Essential took their shot at trying to make a value-chain leap. They failed. That's okay. Life moves on, their engineers will be okay, and they'll get more opportunities in the future - but at least they took their shot.
For example, in Canada, the latest Oneplus 6 cost $699 CAD. That's not cheap. Sure, iPhones and Galaxys are more expensive, but I don't know a lot of people who are ready to drop $700 on a phone from a internet-only brand.