Mobile

Amazon, Tencent Invest In Essential Products Phone

Essential Products, the smartphone company that was started by Andy Rubin — the creator of the Android mobile operating system — has raised $300 million in venture funding from big name investors like Tencent and Amazon.

According to a news report in The Wall Street Journal, the company announced the list of investors betting it can take on Apple and Samsung Electronics in the smartphone market, including Tencent, the Chinese internet company, and Amazon via its Alexa fund, reported the paper. Best Buy and Amazon will also become retail partners for the company in the U.S., reported the Wall Street Journal.

Essential Products wouldn’t disclose when its Essential Phone, which will be priced at $699, will launch. “We’re a few weeks away,” Niccolo De Masi, Essential’s president, told the Wall Street Journal. It’s the same comment Andy Rubin said a few weeks back, noted the paper. “I will give you an exact date in a week.”

In May, Google’s Android mobile phone operating system creator, Andy Rubin, rolled out Essential Products, which will sell a high end smartphone and a home assistant gadget. According to a report in Reuters at the time, the new Essential Phone has an edge-to-edge screen, a titanium and ceramic case and two cameras. The phone is priced at $699 and will operate on the Android OS.

With a price point of $699, Essential Products is going after a market that is dominated by Apple’s iPhone and Samsung’s Galaxy S8 line of smartphones. In addition to the smartphone, it is launching a household assistant called Home that has a screen. Home is going up against the Amazon Echo and Google’s Home Speaker. The Echo is powered by Amazon’s voice-activated personal assistant Alexa, while Google’s Home incorporates its own voice-activated service.

With Essential’s device, users can choose between Alexa, Google Assistant or Apple’s Siri, reported Reuters, noting that Amazon and Google have released the necessary software to Essential Products but Apple has not. Essential said in the report that the Home device will talk to home appliances over the home network instead of sending data to remote servers.

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