Published on February 16th, 2021 📆 | 7315 Views ⚑0
Carl Pei acquires the enthusiast-grade smartphone brand Essential
An interesting development in the Carl Peis new venture is the acquisition of the smartphone brand Essential. Carl Pei, the ingenious mind behind the brand OnePlus, has added the Essential smartphone company to its newfound venture nothing. A pun by a fellow Redditor termed it as a funny coincidence because the name after the acquisition will read NOTHING ESSENTIAL. It has not been a smooth sailing ride for the smartphone brand Essential as it failed to garner actual customers that purchased the proprietary model, Essential PH-1. While the phone was seemingly good in all aspects apart from the camera, it was only favored by tech enthusiasts.
Carl Pei bid-adieu to OnePlus two months ago and embarked on an introspective journey of creating a brand that was far away from the hype. OnePlus has not been the same for quite some time and is even found to be mimicking the designs of Oppo phones and vice versa. My take from his abrupt departure is the lack of innovation and customer input in the newer phone designs. Carl Pei valued customer insights and used them as a core foundation for the OnePlus brand, which is a nuanced smartphone of the last decade. It seems a lack of interest compelled him to make a decision.
The newfound brand Nothing isn’t a smartphone brand like the OnePlus. According to the founder, it is an ecosystem concept that will focus on creating devices that will take advantage of the pre-drafted ecosystem. This ecosystem concept is not new and not lucrative for me as brands tend to isolate the best features to their devices much like what you see in Apple or Samsung’s ecosystem of SmartThings. Nothing will focus on audio equipment and will likely create wireless earbuds to start with. After that, it will slowly expand to ecosystem ideas and incorporate IoT to help the devices communicate with each other.
The legacy of the Essential smartphone brand is not something easy to live with. They only released a single device in three years and that too didn’t catch on like it was destined to. Despite having the cleanest interface, clutterless storage, fast response time, and a simple design, users still lacked the courage to buy it. The update support for the Essential PH-1 is halted at version 10 of Android with no intention of any newer update. So, the idea has been nothing short of a disastrous venture and the intention of Carl Pei in acquiring the branding seems a delirious move.
Carl Pei’s new start-up is raising funding with each passing hour and that too with the help of the biggest industry titans such as Alphabet’s GV, and executives of Reddit, Cred, Twitch, etc to name a few. The startup has raised 15 million in a short span of one month and is planning to open a community equity round that will allow the community to invest up to a total of 1.5 million USD in Nothing. Community members, devoted to the cause will be elected as board members of Nothing to keep a stern eye on the intention behind the brand and building only what consumers want.
I believe in Carl Pei, much like I believed in OnePlus phones until they went from an elite smartphone brand to something like Oppo. The only advantage that I see in the acquisition is obtaining the existing R&D and patents filed by the Essential brand. Leveraging the designs and the software part of the phone, the brand Nothing could become something valuable and worth buying in the coming months. One more trait about the brand that I like is that it replicates the core values of the OnePlus brand. They want to build devices that are required by the consumers and sit well with their needs. Customer input is of paramount importance at Nothing, and I hope it stays that way until Carl migrates to another new venture.