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Essential

In building Essential Products, Android co-founder Andy Rubin insists he isn't trying to build a phone company, but rather a new consumer electronics brand.

Starting with a smartphone, Rubin says, lets Essential kickstart the business by starting with a well understood and huge category.

But, in starting there, Essential is diving into a brutally competitive and demanding market, meaning that a lot of energy is going to be going in that direction.

  • As mentioned in our Axios Review, the Essential Phone is a beautiful (if slightly bulky) device. But at its heart it is yet another high-end Android phone in a world with plenty of options.
  • The company has a second product, a home hub. Essential still hopes to have it out this year, but isn't committing to a time frame.
  • Speaking to reporters this week, Rubin and president Niccolo De Masi stressed the benefits of being small, noting that the company is able to use materials that might not be possible if the company were making millions and millions of phones.
  • But having just 100 employees is also a huge challenge when trying to handle things like manufacturing, customer support and all of the other things that come with selling hardware.
  • Essential has already seen it: the phone has taken longer to bring to market than Rubin had hoped, and is initially shipping only in black and is not yet plentiful enough for Sprint to do a full retail launch.

Déjà vu?: It's something Rubin should remember from his first phone startup - Danger. Its Sidekick was way ahead of its time, but the company had a tough time iterating as much of its time and energy was taken servicing the existing product. That said, Rubin has a decade and a half more experience and tons more funding this time around, having recently closed a $300 million round.

Go deeper

Nathan Bomey, author of Closer
1 min ago - Economy & Business

Tesla delays Cybertruck until 2023

Tesla debuts the Cybertruck in Hawthorne, Calif., on Nov. 21, 2019. Photo: Frederic J. Brown/AFP via Getty Images

Tesla is at risk of falling behind on one of the most critical products in the American auto industry: pickups.

Why it matters: Pickups are the most profitable segment in the business and account for the first, second and third best-selling vehicles in the country. Without a serious pickup strategy, Tesla could miss out on a huge source of future income.

Defense taking steps to mitigate civilian harm after botched airstrikes

Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin speaks during a news conference at the Pentagon in Arlington, Virginia on Sept. 1, 2021. Photo: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin issued a directive Thursday to improve the U.S. military's approach to civilian harm mitigation and response, calling it a "strategic and a moral imperative."

Why it matters: The Pentagon has faced criticism for years for amassing civilian casualties in its missions, especially in the Middle East. New York Times investigations have found systemic failures in efforts to prevent civilian deaths, as well as a cover-up of a 2019 airstrike that killed dozens of women and children in Syria.

3 hours ago - World

Mapped: The world's most and least corrupt countries

Expand chart
Data: Transparency International; Map: Jared Whalen/Axios

The most corrupt governments in the world are in South Sudan, Syria and Somalia, according to Transparency International's annual index, while the "cleanest" are in Denmark, Finland and New Zealand.

  • Breaking it down: The U.S. is 27th, China 66th, India 85th, Brazil 96th and Russia 136th. Scroll over the map to see each country's ranking.