According to estimates from BayStreet Research, the Essential Phone is getting creamed on the open market. In total, Essential is reported to have sold only 5,000 units of its premium Android handset, well under any reasonable target the company may have set for itself.
We could sit here and go over exactly why Essential may be struggling to sell phones, but that could take some time. Instead, let me give you a recap of the events so far, and maybe that will help put things into perspective.
In late May, Andy Rubin announced his new startup’s Essential Phone. The hype was real, with this phone sporting an insanely attractive hardware design, as well as being teased with a completely barebones, stock Android OS experience. At that time, Rubin said he would not have launched reservations unless the phone was about 30 days out from launch. Well, fast forward all the way to August and the device was finally able to be purchased. Even though the device was teased in three colors, only black was made available and is still the only color you can purchase.
Once shipments actually arrived in customer hands, as well as reviewers, things weren’t looking too good. Reviewers, including us, found that the software was insanely buggy, which is just inexcusable when the device is running stock Android, plus the camera experience left a whole lot to be desired. Couple these issues with a $700 price tag and you’re asking for trouble.
As of right now, Essential still only has one carrier partner, Sprint, who isn’t exactly the best carrier to have an exclusive device on. Add all of this together and you have a phone that just doesn’t sit right with phone buyers.
For being its first go around, I’d chalk this all up as a learning experience for Essential. If anything, these missteps make me excited for the next iteration of the Essential Phone.