Andy Rubin's Essential Shutting Down, Newton Mail Service Ending Too

Yolanda Curtis
February 13, 2020

Essential, the company founded by one-time Android creator Andy Rubin, is now closing its doors for good.

It had been working on an unusual super-slim smartphone called Gem but said in a statement that it had "no clear path forward" to deliver it.

In October, Rubin tweeted out images of "Project Gem", an unusually tall-shaped smartphone that resembled a remote control.

"But the team at Essential explains that there is "no clear path to deliver [Project GEM] to customers".

In a blog post on the Essential website today, the company announced that it is ceasing operations immediately and permanently.

Rubin founded Essential after leading Google's Android mobile software business for years. However, in 2017 and 2018, he found himself embroiled in controversy over his 2014 resignation from Google. Google investigated, found the allegation credible and asked him to resign, but also gave him a US$90-million exit package.

Essential raised more than $300-million from firms including Redpoint Ventures, Altimeter Capital, Tencent Holdings and Foxconn Technology Group.

Still, the smartphone showed off by Rubin earlier (Project GEM) didn't really look practical to me - and perhaps investors felt the same way.

Essential today also published a few videos that showcase Project Gem, check them out below. But aside from the product's narrow display, we're skeptical the product would have offered anything new to the consumer.

The Essential Phone received lukewarm reviews when it launched with most of the negativity directed at its camera. "Your PH-1 will continue to work but we will not be providing any additional updates or customer support", the company added. Users of the service will still have access to it until 30 April 2020. Though the company says that all the tools anyone would need to keep hacking the PH-1 will be hosted on GitHub.

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