Essential won’t be bringing its first device to all of the major U.S. carriers anytime soon.
It’s 2017, and the Essential Phone will only be sold through Sprint. A partnership between Essential and Sprint was revealed over the weekend, leaving the other three carriers without the phone in stores and online. Those who want to buy the Essential Phone but aren’t Sprint customers will likely have to go through Essential itself. An unlocked model capable of working on all networks is already up for reserve on Essential’s site.
Essential’s Niccolo de Massi told USA Today:
“We like to bet with where we think the market is going as opposed to where the market was. I feel like we are a new brand and a new consumer electronics company and we are partnering with the network of the future.”
If you’re going to be successful in the U.S. on the same level as Samsung and LG, you need carriers to sell your device. The direct-to-consumer model with unlocked phones, while appealing, isn’t completely understood by the masses. Most U.S. consumers still look to the carriers as their go-to option for buying phones.
The partnership will provide the phone with a “hero launch” involving prominence in stores highlighted by a “premium space.” It’s like, too, that Sprint pushes the Essential Phone in advertising spots on television and online. And it’s all while not putting the carrier’s logo on the phone.
It’s no surprise that Sprint is the exclusive U.S. carrier selling the Essential Phone. Andy Rubin, Android’s co-founder and Essential’s current head, is an advisor to the SoftBank Vision Fund. SoftBank is Sprint’s parent company, and CEO Masayoshi Son has a close relationship with Rubin. Before going public with its product, there was an agreement in place for SoftBank to invest $100 million in Essential. Apple’s relationship with SoftBank, however, nixed the deal.
There still isn’t a release date for the Essential Phone by the way. Essential hasn’t even started taking pre-orders. Yet it was Rubin himself who said the Essential Phone would ship within 30 days of its announcement earlier this month. Everyone is going to have to wait and see if the company does meet that expectation because Essential doesn’t seem keen on sharing many details.
Source: USA Today