If at first you don't succeed, try, try again, right? Andy Rubin and his company, Essential, are taking that advice to heart after the company's first generation Essential Phone failed to disrupt the smartphone market. Essential is not finished building mobile devices. The company's next phone will take another stab at disrupting the competitive landscape, this time by leaning heavily on artificial intelligence.
AI seems to be the go-to technology these days. Google's recently introduced Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL, for example, leverage AI to help combat against spam calls. And practically every smartphone these days has some sort of digital assistant, be it Siri, Bixby, or whatever.
According to supposed inside sources that spoke with Bloomberg, Essential's next mobile device will have a small display feature mostly voice input. For the most part, voice commands will not be optional on Essential's next phone, but mandatory, though it's not entirely clear for what specific tasks. That said, voice input will be used in conjunction with Essential's AI technology.
Taking things a step further, the phone will be able to automatically respond to text messages and emails. The sources didn't go into detail on how exactly that will work, but we imagine it will be akin to smart replies, only automated instead of presenting a list of options to the user.
Color us skeptical. Rubin is ambitious, there's not doubt about that. However, the Essential Phone is a lesson in how difficult it is to compete in the smartphone space. It was reported in 2017 that only 88,000 Essential Phone devices were sold from when it was introduced in July to the end of the year, compared to Apple selling 22.39 iPhones during the last quarter of 2017 alone.
The interest just wasn't there, and in this editor's opinion, jumping on the AI bandwagon is not likely to be the golden ticket Rubin is looking for.