Android co-founder Andy Rubin's company has added $300 million to its coffers as it prepares to enter the consumer electronics market with the Essential smartphone.
Essential Valued At $1 Billion
According to market research firm, Equidate, Essential is worth $900 million to $1 billion. The company submitted paperwork regarding recent investments in May, a few days before it unveiled the Essential phone and a smart home speaker. The company's investors were not disclosed.
Prior to these investments, Essential also raised $30 million from Rubin's Playground Global, a tech startup he founded after leaving Google.
Aside from Playground Global, Rubin negotiated a deal with SoftBank Group Corp to include Essential in the firm's nearly $1 billion technology fund. However, the deal fell through when a rival company joined the fund. Reports indicated that the rival firm was Apple, but Rubin did not confirm which company was involved.
"I just went to other investors," Rubin said. "I'm lucky to have good support from people that want to support these crazy, big, audacious things."
Rubin's Return To Android
When Rubin created the Android OS, he changed the world of smartphones and opened a field that had previously been dominated by Apple over a wide range of competitors. Unfortunately for Rubin, Essential may become a victim of his own success. Android currently runs on more than 2 billion devices and accounts for more than 81 percent of the smartphone market.
— Google (@Google) May 17, 2017
Essential vs. Samsung
While Chinese manufacturers are becoming more prominent, it is Samsung that dominates the premium Android market. Google's Pixel has provided some challenges; however, if the Essential phone is to be a success, then it also must be able to compete with the Galaxy S8.
As of right now, it is unclear if the Essential phone will be able to compete in a market dominated by Samsung and Apple, but it does have a few things going for it. For starters, as the creator of Android, Rubin's name carries a lot of weight in the tech community and will likely bring a lot of Android enthusiasts on board.
In terms of features, the Essential phone will feature top-of-the-line hardware, a modular design and quality craftsmanship that will help justify the reported $699 price tag. In terms of design, the phone's body will be made of titanium, which Rubin believes is durable enough that the phone will not need a case.