Andy Rubin’s Essential Products startup set off on a journey to bring “real passion and craftsmanship back” into the mobile hardware world with understandably lofty goals, gunning for sales of millions of units even after a bunch of “edge-to-edge” PH-1 delays.
Unfortunately for the Android co-founder, it seems very few of his vocal admirers put their money where their mouths are, actually purchasing the Essential Phone from its exclusive US carrier.
Specifically, San Francisco-based independent research firm BayStreet roughly estimates the eye-catching 5.7-incher’s sell-through with Sprint at 5,000 units. We’re talking a measly five thousand devices reportedly bought by the “Now Network’s” subscribers in an arguably short window of time. Still, a couple of weeks is plenty to signal strong or extremely weak consumer demand.
Here, we’re dealing with the latter, regardless of how many more phones Essential shipped directly to buyers of unlocked variants. After all, not everyone can afford to cough up $699 outright, and while Sprint remains dead last in popularity among America’s “big four” wireless service providers, it’s operator promos like substantial lease discounts that often boost a product’s appeal.
It’s obviously pointless to compare the estimated 5,000 sales tally of Sprint’s Essential Phone with early numbers posted by other “Infinity Display” flagships, but two major lemons come to mind.
Back in 2013, AT&T merely sold 15,000 copies of the so-called “Facebook Phone”, aka HTC First, before pulling the plug. One year later, the same carrier unloaded no more than 35,000 Fire Phones in the space of a few weeks. Neither Facebook, nor Amazon released a mobile device again. That’s probably not a fair comparison, considering the names of the three companies, but Essential is in deep trouble nonetheless.