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How do you estimate the sales figures of a phone hailing from a company that may not want to discourage early investors and potential buyers waiting for the return of killer recent deals? In theory, you can only make educated guesses based on things like production delays, slow distribution expansions, scandals of various types, and general user sentiment.

But there might also be a more objective, precise way to assess the commercial success of the Essential Phone than interpret frequent discounts as a sign of doom and gloom. If Pixel Launcher download numbers appeared to suggest the first “made by Google” device generation barely crossed a million shipments back in June, we now have reason to believe Andy Rubin’s rookie solo effort has just exceeded 50,000 unit sales.

The Essential PH-1’s proprietary Camera app is in the 50,000 – 100,000 install interval starting this week on Google’s Play Store, which probably means Rubin’s startup hasn’t managed to sell a whole lot of “edge-to-edge” products.

Of course, 50,000 is far from an exact box-office figure, but we can’t think of many factors influencing the accuracy of this particular app’s installation scores. After all, only Essential Phone owners can use it, and they haven’t been extremely satisfied with its capabilities until recently.

At the end of the day, even admitting this very reasonable ballpark could be off by a few thousand units doesn’t change the bottom line. All in all, the Essential Phone has clearly not soared to the level of mainstream popularity some folks expected back in May or June, but it’s not as colossal of a flop as previous research numbers suggested.

Essential is fully intent on releasing a sequel next year, and in the meantime, the original could definitely build a cult following of sorts… at the right price.

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