This morning’s Moto Z4 information was good trigger to return and reassess the state of the modular cellphone. Three years after the road launched, the idea hasn’t precisely ignited the market — in reality, there are actually only a handful of scattered opponents to indicate for it. Essential is among the many most distinguished, with the PH-1’s intelligent two-pin connector.

By sheer coincidence, it seems immediately is the two-year anniversary of the corporate’s debut. Founder Andy Rubin took to the stage at Code 2017 with massive concepts and two merchandise. One, the PH-1, has come and gone, launching a few months late in August 2017 earlier than being discontinued late final 12 months. The different, the Essential Home hub, by no means appeared in any respect.

The day the merchandise had been introduced, then COO Niccolo de Masi (who seems to have since moved on to Honeywell spin-off Resideo), spoke of the corporate’s 10-year plan. It was an acknowledgement that it had a troublesome highway forward, because it deliberate to tackle massive names like Apple and Samsung. But the corporate actually had the cash. A $300 million elevate helped the startup obtain unicorn standing not lengthy after taking the stage on the convention.

But the intervening two years have been plagued with unhealthy information. In spite of constructive critiques, the corporate reportedly solely shipped 88,000 telephones in 2017. The PH-1 obtained a large worth drop and its first modular accent, a 360 digicam, was discounted to $19, down from $250.

Last May, rumors surfaced that the corporate had gone up on the market and its follow-up cellphone had been canceled. And in October, it laid off almost a 3rd of its workers. Founder Andy Rubin has been laying low within the meantime. That similar month, The New York Times printed an explosive story a few $90 million Google payoff within the wake of sexual misconduct claims, inflicting him to take go away from Essential.

All the whereas, nonetheless, the corporate has firmly denied claims that it’s going away. I spoke to a rep on the firm lately who mentioned issues are within the works, with out revealing any specifics. There have been a ton of patent filings that seem to level to some future handset. It introduced a brand new mod for the PH-1 in June and even acquired an organization in December. Hell, earlier this month, it issued a brand new safety patch, holding to its promise of month-to-month updates — a hell of much more than many extra profitable smartphone makers have provided.

That’s a part of what makes the Essential story so irritating. The PH-1 was a novel gadget, among the many first to go together with a digicam notch…

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