In a blog post, Essential said:
“In October, we introduced Project GEM, a new mobile experience that our hardware, software and cloud teams have been building and testing for the past few years. Our vision was to invent a mobile computing paradigm that more seamlessly integrated with people’s lifestyle needs. Despite our best efforts, we’ve now taken Gem as far as we can and regrettably have no clear path to deliver it to customers. Given this, we have made the difficult decision to cease operations and shutdown Essential.”
The post praises Essential's last work on the weird tall thin Gem phone mentioned. The post includes embedded videos about the now abandoned project and goes on to say that the Essential PH-1 will not receive any other security patches but should continue to work. Customer service for Essential customers is now also unavailable.
Newton Mail, the email client that Essential acquired in 2018, will also be shut down on 30 April.
It’s hard to outright blame Rubin’s tarnished record on the company’s demise, but the signs all point to it starting the spiral. Essential launched the PH-1 on a wave of hype given Rubin was one of the creators of the Android platform. His name had helped raise $330 million in funding before his reputation was called into question.
But the device reviewed poorly, was barely sold outside of the US, and after reports of Rubin’s misconduct and subsequent $90 million Google severance package surfaced, Essential all but stopped doing anything public facing thanks to its disgraced founder, save for pushing regular security patches to the phone.
Rubin suddenly tweeted about the mysterious Project Gem phone in October before wiping his entire Twitter account pre-2016 and blocking several technology journalists. It has turned out to be the last action of Rubin at Essential.