Innovation

Andy Rubin Launches The “Essential” Phone and Home

The co-creator of Google's Android mobile phone operating system, Andy Rubin, rolled out a new company dubbed Essential Products that will sell a high end mobile phone and a home assistant gadget.

According to a report in Reuters, 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 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 the Home device will talk to home appliances over the home network instead of sending data to remote servers.

Essential Products plans to unveil when it will start shipping its devices in the coming weeks and wouldn’t disclose if it will sell the phone direct to consumers online or via stores. Investors in the company, noted Reuters, include Tencent Holdings of China, Foxconn, Redpoint Ventures and Altimeter Capital.

The company also, for the first time, announced who is part of the team naming Wolfgang Muller as head of channel sales. Muller was formerly in charge of North American retail operations for phone maker HTC, reported Reuters. His appointment could mean Essential will hawk the phones at retailers, carriers or both.

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