Essential Products, a company co-founded by Android creator Andy Robin, is reportedly cancelling the development of new products and putting itself on sale.
Founded in 2017, Essential announced it is making smartphones and a smart speakers for homes. While it shipped the smartphone last August, there has been no further updates on the speaker since one year ago.
According to Bloomberg, Essential is actively selling the entire company to potential buyers, who may obtain Essential’s patent portfolio, hardware products and upcoming smart home speaker and a module camera for phones.
Andy Robin responded to this story with a Twitter post and said “We always have multiple products in development at the same time and we embrace canceling some in favor of the ones we think will be bigger hits. We are putting all of our efforts towards our future, game-changing products, which include mobile and home products.”
Android’s creator founded Essential with big ambitions – to create a smartphone that adapts to user’s behavior over time so that consumers don’t need to replace their phones every year, and to create a smart speaker to support all smart home platforms together with open source API.
Its smartphone, priced at US$699 as an iPhone competitor, sold about 20,000 units on its website and through third-party distributors, according to Bloomberg. It then lowered the price by US$200, which brought its total sales to 150,000 to date.
Its smart speaker is designed to look like the Echo Dot but with a touchscreen. It’s running on its own Ambient OS and designed to integrate every smart platforms, including SmartThings, HomeKit, Nest, Alexa and Google Assistant, through public APIs for the system.
The company said it would launch the speaker at the end of 2017, but the market is still waiting to hear updates after the initial announcement.
Essential has raised about US$300 million since its founding. Its investors include Amazon, Tencent Holdings, Redpoint Ventures and electronics manufacturer Foxconn.
Andy Robin, who created Android system, left Google in 2014 and founded an incubator called Playground in California.
In the one-year lifespan of Essential, the startup has lost dozens of hardware and software engineers as well as top executives.