Rubin has the vision, insight, and extreme enthusiasm for cutting-edge technology, but lacks the execution power to really land the product, and the innovations he pursues, ultimately fail to really reach the user. The founder’s aura will make a company, and it can destroy a company.
Andy Rubin used to be an entrepreneur who brought a lot of aura to the company. When Rubin, who left Google, decided to start Essential in 2015, he gained the attention of the entire technology industry. The media, peers and all the enthusiasts of digital hardware are hoping to find out from the clues of Rubin’s new moves that the smartphone pioneer who can get back on the trail.
Rubin does want to transform the current smartphone market, which he argues is complex and closed, with Android and iOS opening up the smartphone industry but monopolizing it, and hostile parties ultimately leading to a lack of openness in the entire smart hardware ecosystem.
Rubin wants to break the deadlock and create a platform that is open enough. It’s an exciting future for geeks, and employees at Google, HTC and Apple are racing to follow him, and Essential has been given unlimited hope in its inception.
Five years on, the results have come to light. With the exception of the hard-to-produce essential PH-1 and its two accessories (360-degree camera and 3.5mm headphone jack), Essential didn’t come up with any other substantial products. In its latest corporate blog, Essential shows off a new machine in secret research and development (the internal codename ProjectGEM), and the narrow body, which is as long as a TV remote control, is still novel and exciting, but unfortunately, Essential says the company doesn’t have the ability to deliver products to users.
At this point, Rubin’s mobile dream was also forced to press the pause button.
See the future
As early as the 1990s, Rubin came up with the concept of “smartphone”. In 1999, as co-founder of Danger, Rubin designed a prototype device for a smartphone called T-Mobile Sidekick, also known as Danger Hiptop, although some features seem to be more common today, and the ground-breaking Sidekick It was one of the first smartphones to integrate Internet, instant messaging, email and PC applications.
Rubin was invited to give a speech at Stanford University, and Larry Page and Sergey Brin sat down on the stage as he chatted on the stage. By chance, Page discovered that Google was set up as Sidekick’s default search engine, which was the beginning of Rubin’s relationship with Google. In the spring of 2002, Page and Brin got Sidekick around their waists wherever they went, making it easy to use their search engines at any time. Page also quickly came up with the idea of developing a Google phone and mobile operating system.
Geeks, avant-garde, visionary… Words that represent the future can all be reflected in Rubin.
Privately, he was passionate about novel techniques, designed a home theater system, and once the movie was over, the bedroom lights would turn on slowly; a few helicopter models were parked downstairs, controlled by a computer program to fly automatically; and in his bakery for his ex-wife, Rie, there was a POS system he had written himself. You can also complete the collection of money, change and transaction without a cashier.
Not only is he passionate about all kinds of novel technologies, but he is always willing to invest everything in it. In 1990, Apple spun off its handheld computing and communications equipment division and founded General Magic. Rubin, who came to General Magic, said he was completely immersed in the company’s engineering culture, with several engineers, including him, setting up loft beds in cubicles and living in offices to work around the clock, and the Magic Cap they wanted to develop It is a groundbreaking operating system and interface designed for handheld devices and smartphones.
General Magic had a brief stint, with only a handful of manufacturers and telcos adopting their plan because Magic Cap was a great idea, but at least a decade early. Draganic, who worked with Rubin, later recalled that it felt like “building a car behind closed doors” and “making inventions in a research lab”: “We worked hard, we worked together, we made the cool products we wanted, but the market didn’t buy them.” “
In 2003, Rubin finally got on track with reality. He developed Android with a domain name Android.com he had for many years. At the time, there were so many smartphones on the market that they were incompatible with each other, and Android redefined smartphones with open source features, making it the world’s most prolific mobile operating system. Interestingly, during the development of Android, the near-bankrupt Rubin personally funded Sebastian Thrun, discovered the value of autonomous driving, and then “made” the father of Thrun Google’s self-driving drive by connecting with Thrun and Page.
Lost to reality
In March 2017, Rubin tweeted a photo of his “full screen” phone (which has been deleted), saying, “I’m excited about how things are going and i’m eager to put it in the hands of more people.” Many mobile phone enthusiasts are excited about this.
Essential PH-1 started out on the “high-end” approach, using a “beauty tip” comprehensive screen design, titanium alloy midframe, ceramic back cover. Rubin also made a modular design, adding a unique magnetic suction interface next to the camera that allows users to expand their external devices. The appearance is very much in line with the geek’s appetite. Paraly, the Essential PH-1 is one of the strongest flagship phones of 2017.
The team underestimated the difficulty of mass production, and technoBuffalo reported in September 2017 that an employee had spoken out about a problem with mass production of the phone. Nothing goes well, production doesn’t work together, one part is done, the other part fails. Slower than expected. “Combined with Ocean Depths and Stellar Grey’s color matching difficulties, it has also slowed down the mass production of your phone.
This causes shipments to be delayed from June to September. Smartphone product iteration slots, galaxy Note 8, LG V30, iPhone 8, HTC U11 took over the Essential PH-1, and the original high-spirited consumers won’t buy it. Not only that, but the later Essential PH-1 went wrong in the sales strategy. As a brand-new brand, Essential chose to sign an exclusive agreement with Sprint, the largest carrier, when it needed to open up its visibility.
Before the launch of Essential PH-1, he spoke at length about why he wanted to be a mobile phone after he left Google: “We don’t like the current state of technology, (consumers) are choosing less and less, more and more unnecessary features are bothering our lives, and more and more products are incompatible with each other. And I’m partly responsible for all this. “
In terms of hardware, the modular design source Rubin “reinvents the closed and complex smartphone market” with the original intention. Business Insider explains that the biggest advantage of The Essential system is that these modules work on devices other than essential Phones, not just essential Home, developed by Essential. Or equipment from other manufacturers. In theory, the module is open to any device. “We’re not doing gimmicks, we’re doing real innovation, we’re doing what we can’t do inside a phone with accessory ports.” “When it comes to modular design, says COO Niccolo de Masi. But modular phones do not verify its rationality from the demand side, in most cases, people change phones not because the camera is broken, change a camera, but have better performance of the new phone appeared.
Softwarely, Essential PH-1, which still features native Android, doesn’t really realize the idea of “a phone that’s compatible with all platforms.” Two months after the announcement, Essential announced a $200 price cut, and even that didn’t spur sales, with IDC reporting that only 88,000 Essential Phones had been sold by 2017.
Unable to return to the sky
Rubin’s reputation has always been bigger than the company’s, and it’s hard not to be involved in the company’s development and direction. In 2017, The Information revealed that TheRoud left Google because he had been accused of sexual harassment. Andy Rubin had to leave the company briefly because of the scandal.
Bloomberg reported that in the first half of 2018, former Silicon Valley star companies were seeking to sell, and Rubin said there would be no more essential Phones. Things are going to fester in 2018: The New York Times revealed that Google offered $90 million in compensation to Andy Rubin, leading more than 20,000 Google employees around the world to “come forward” to protest Google’s handling of the problem.
By the end of 2018, Essential had been cutting 30% of its workforce (120 previously). The layoffs came months after the company canceled its Essential Phone Second Generation program and suspended plans to compete with Amazon and Google for smart homes. Essential Home will feature a self-developed AmbientOS smart home operating system, which will be compatible with and support different ecosystems such as Siri, Google Assistant, Alexa, and more. “The best description is that we want to build bridges. Rubin said. This is similar to Rubin’s original intention to make a mobile phone.
Essential was founded with high hopes, with a cumulative $330 million in financing from Amazon’s Alexa Fund, Tencent, Foxconn, and others, and was valued at $1.2 billion at one point, making it one of the unicorns. Rubin has the vision, insight, and extreme enthusiasm for cutting-edge technology, but lacks the execution power to really land the product, and the innovations he pursues, ultimately fail to really reach the user.
In October last year, Essential was already siphoned off from the projectGEM, which is being built. According to former employees, the phone is known as the so-called “partner phone” – freeing people from the transition dependence on their phones. The GEM is also an AI smartphone that uses AI and voice control to send and reply to messages so that the phone is smaller. Essential is understood to have spent at least $50 million on research and development.
In an interview with Bloomberg last year, Rubin said, “If I can make your phone a virtual “you,” you can enjoy life, enjoy dinner, you have complete trust in your phone, it does something instead of you.” “I think I can solve some of people’s addiction to mobile phones. “
To the average person, it sounds more like a scene from a sci-fi movie.
A friend of Rubin’s once commented that Rubin had predicted five, 10, 15 years of state, and looking back now, he would say, “My God, haven’t we got there yet?” “
When Rubin lets “smartphones” go from concept to landing, they make Rubin less interested, Wired writes. As an engineering problem, this has been solved. Of course, new applications are coming out on a steady stream, but for those who see engineering as an art, it’s like adding a few strokes to the paint layer. For Rubin, he saw a new canvas, artificial intelligence… Rubin believes that humanity is at a turning point in the new era of computing. Just as MS-DOS gives way to Macintosh and Windows, the latter gives way to the Internet, and the Internet gives way to smartphones, we are transitioning to artificial intelligence.
After leaving Google, Rubin first founded Playground Global, a venture capital firm. While investing in the hardware founding team, Rubin will provide an “all-star” lineup of engineers to help the team build hardware and software. Rubin wants Playground to be a factory that produces standardized “parts” for the future AI era, and once Rubin succeeds, he will open up the entire hardware and software platform, not just the companies he invests in, but any one company can access, build drones, smart homes, robots, This will be the impact of the infrastructure of tens of thousands of products, just as Android did with smartphones.
Rubin can’t even wait for the future to come. Rubin founded Playground Global in part to prepare for Essential, while at the same time with the urgency of accelerating AI to land in people’s lives. However, before the new machine was officially released, the bad news of Essential’s collapse came first.
On February 13, while Essential announced that it was out of operation and would no longer continue to provide services and updates to Essential Phone, a demo video for ProjectGEM was released, with GEM’s “Rubin-style” geeks, which look like remote controls, fingerprint recognition on the back, input keys The disc has a diagonal design… Essential says the company has developed such a new phone, but “there is no clear way to deliver it to customers”, in other words, Essential still can’t solve the problem of mass production.
As always, Rubin’s lack of patience and his early actions are premature – while his vision may be right, the foundations of society, culture and science have not yet been built. He’s had a few hard times before, “Look at Danger,” says Tim O’Reilly. “