Android's Rubin to launch 'Essential' phone

James Pearce
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Andy Rubin, the man responsible for creating the Android mobile operating system, is set to launch smartphone and AI products, with his new company, named “Essential”

Former Google SVP of Android Andy Rubin left the search engine giant in 2014, but has now recruited a 40-person team made up of former Apple and Alphabet (Google’s parent company) employees, according to Bloomberg.

Rubin founded Android Inc. in 2003 and began developing mobile operating software, before it was acquired by Google in 2005. Android is now the world’s most-used operating system, with over 86% of the market using Android-powered devices. It’s next nearest rival, iOS, had a 12.5% share in Q3 2016, according to IDC.

Rubin has already held discussions with operaters including executives form Sprint, according to Bloomberg, with plans to launch a high-end smartphone with a large edge-to-edge screen.

In a filing with California regulators, Essential Products Inc lists smartphones, tablets, accessories, and computer operating software for mobile among its products.

Rubin also has experience in artificial intelligence, having founded Playground Global, an AI, robotics and augmented reality incubator, when he left Google in 2014.

According to Bloomberg, citing people familiar with the prject, Rubin is aiming to launch Essentials’ first device by the middle of this year, and it will be priced in the same bracket as an iPhone and Google’s Pixel smartphone, which launched last year.

He has recruited a number of ex-Google and Apple employees, appointing former Glu Mobuile CEO Niccolo De Masi as president and COO, and former Magic Leap VP Andy Rouche as head of comms.

Other recruits include former Google software manager Rebecca Zavin, former Apple products man Jason Keats, and former Qualcomm and HP VP Joe Tate.