Just like every year, 2017 has brought the release of a lot of new phones — most of them very good. You've got your heavy-hitters like the Galaxy Note 8 and LG V30, but then there's the market oddity that is the Essential Phone. The very first product from Andy Rubin's new startup was officially launched on August 17, and since then, it's being reported that a mere 5,000 units of the Essential Phone have been sold.
In the smartphone world, 5,000 units sold in more than a month's time is nothing. BayStreet Research came up with this number by tracking shipments of the Essential Phone across the United States, and when BayStreet asked Essential for a comment on their findings, they didn't receive any sort of response.
To put things into perspective, Samsung's Galaxy Note 8 saw 650,000 preorders in South Korea in just five days. Compared to the Essential Phone's reported 5,000 units for more than a month, that's not a great start at all.
So, what's the cause for the Essential Phone's weak sales? Although we can't say with absolute certainty because every person has different buying habits, we can safely narrow it down to a handful of possibilities.
For starters, if you want to buy the Essential Phone in the United States, the only carrier you can get it from is Sprint. If that isn't your carrier of choice, you'll need to pay the full $699 asking price upfront. Carrier exclusivity is never helpful for increasing sales numbers as much as possible, and that point is further reinforced when you limit your phone to the least popular major carrier in the country.
If you want to sell a lot of phones, don't limit yourself to the country's weakest carrier
Along with its limited availability, the Essential Phone really isn't a complete product. Between unfinished software and numerous camera issues, the phone doesn't perfectly justify its $700 asking price. The premium materials used for its construction are something to behold, but when you're advertising a phone as having all of the "essentials" that everybody needs and don't include a headphone jack, you're looking at a tough sell.
Andy Rubin has reiterated numerous times that the Essential Phone is just the beginning for a host of other products that will make up Essential's ecosystem, and while that may be true, 5,000 units sold in a month's time isn't the best way to kick things off.
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