Essential is to cease operations and shutdown. The innovative smartphone company, started by ex-Googler Andy Rubin, will exit with only one shipping product to its name - the notch pioneering Essential PH-1. From the official news update post on the Essential site, it seems like its next device hit a manufacturing/distribution stone wall and that was ultimately the impetus behind the decision to close.
Essential says that its vision was to "invent a mobile computing paradigm that more seamlessly integrated with people’s lifestyle needs." However, the Project Gem, which would have spearheaded this vision will never be commercialised as the firm sees "no clear path to deliver it to customers".
The news writer from the Essential team thanked employees in Palo Alto and Bangalore - as well as global partners - for the work done in the name of the company. Particular mention was given to the CloudMagic team which joined Essential last year and was a major force in delivering Newton Mail and developing the slim and compact Project Gem smartphone.
Essential wishes to wind down its operations in an orderly way and has taken some steps to do so. For example, the Essential PH-1, which has been well supported since launch, will get "a prebuilt of our vendor image and everything else needed to keep hacking on PH-1 will be hosted on our github". The PH-1 was last updated by Essential on 3rd Feb, and that will be the last official patch delivered. Current Newton Mail users will have access to the service until 30th April 2020.
As it winds-down, Essential has released a series of videos which showcase the charm and simplicity of the now to be mothballed Project Gem series of smartphones. I've embedded two of the four videos here, above and below. You can check them all out at the source.
Of the multitude of samey me-too smartphone slabs seemingly launched daily it is a shame that these Essential Gem devices with their carefully considered software/hardware choices look like they will never make it into consumer hands.