Andy Rubin’s Essential Phone has a daring design and it’s an interesting high-end Android device built in part by the inventor of Android. The Essential Phone was positioned as an alternative to the iPhone and every high-end Android handset available right now, and the company convinced plenty of investors that Essential has a bright future.
However, it turns out people aren’t buying the device, which is why the company has permanently cut the price of the handset by $200, down to $499.
“We want to make it even easier for you to experience our products and our brand,” the company said in a blog post. “So starting today, we’re offering Essential Phone for $499 on Essential.com.”
If that’s not a clear sign that Essential is struggling to sell phones, I don’t know what is. The company did not reveal actual sales numbers for its first phone, but a recent note from BayStreet Research said that the smartphone sold just 5,000 units during its first two weeks of availability in the US.
Interestingly, the company is also taking hits at competing devices, and the way they’re marketed. “We could have created a massive TV campaign to capture your attention, but we think making it easier for people to get their hands on our first products is a better way to get to know us,” Essential said.
On second thought, maybe creating a massive TV campaign for a brand new Android phone that’s not a Galaxy or a Pixel may be the smart thing to do.
What if you purchased the Essential Phone for the full $699 price? Well, you’ll be (sort of) happy to hear that existing buyers will get a $200 “friends and family code” to use on other Essential products. You’re not really getting your money back, but it’s better than nothing.
Yes, Apple slashed the prices of the original iPhone by $200 as well. But the iPhone was the only device at the time that forced buyers to pay full price rather than pay a small amount up front and lump the rest into a wireless service plan. The original iPhone was also already on track to sell 1 million units when Apple made the announcement, which was a remarkable feat at the time.