Andy Rubin planning to make a comeback with a new consumer hardware company and a new high-end smartphone
Andy Rubin, creator of the most popular mobile operating system, Android, who left Google two years ago is now preparing to take on the smartphone industry he helped create. Apparently, Rubin is looking to announce a new company called Essential and serve as its Chief Executive Officer, according to people known to the matter.
Essential is a consumer hardware company that aims to tie multiple devices together. The main project at the company will be a high-end smartphone with edge-to-edge display that lacks a surrounding bezel, according to a report in Bloomberg. Rubin is targeting to release an AI-based high-end premium device meant to compete with the iPhone and top-tier Android handsets like the Google Pixel. The idea is that the devices will be able get new hardware updates to keep them from getting old.
In November 2015, Rubin registered Essential Products Inc. with California regulators. Further, in late 2016, the company registered “Essential” with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, listing smartphones, tablets, accessories and “computer operating software for mobile phones” among its goods and services. However, it is not clear if the devices will run on software based on Android.
Currently, Essential has about 40 people working for the company who are recruited from Apple Inc. and Google. It is reportedly also working on building a range of lot of different AI oriented shopper digital merchandise.
A platform company designed to tie multiple devices together, Essential is working on a suite of consumer hardware products, including ones for the mobile and smart home markets, one of the people said.
The centerpiece of the system is a high-end smartphone with a large edge-to-edge screen that lacks a surrounding bezel. At the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas in early January, Rubin discussed the smartphone with mobile carrier executives, including some from Sprint Corp., people familiar with the talks said.
One prototype of an Essential smartphone currently being worked upon boasts of a screen larger than the iPhone 7 Plus’s (5.5-inches) but has a smaller overall footprint because of the lack of bezels. Rubin is currently trying to create a screen that can sense pressure, similar to Apple’s 3D touch technology and also working on a proprietary connector that would charge the battery and improve functionality. Hardware accessories like a 360-degree camera could be added that would allow users to create high-res 360-degree photographs right from the smartphone. It is expected to be manufactured with high-end materials, metal edges, and a ceramic back panel.
If all goes as planned, Rubin is looking to put the smartphone on sale as early as June of this year for a price close to that of an iPhone 7. Foxconn is already in discussions to manufacture it.