Industry analyst estimates Sprint to have sold only 5,000 Essential PH-1 smartphones

BayStreet Research, an industry analyst, has estimated Sprint to have sold just 5,000 units of the Essential PH-1 smartphone since it launched in September.

The Essential PH-1 was first unveiled at the end of May along with a number of other Essential products, but the launch was delayed by several months. Essential may have breathed a final sigh of relief when Verizon finally approved the device for use on its network, but it seems that there is no immediate end in sight to Essential’s woes. Actually, let me give a different perspective: there’s no end in sight to websites reporting Essential’s woes, which is not the same. The story is more about Sprint than Essential.

BayStreet Research’s numbers were originally reported by the Fierce Wireless website, explaining that America’s fourth largest national carrier had sold an estimated 5,000 units. Since Fierce Wireless’ original report, various other websites around the internet have picked up on the article but adjusted the headline to imply that Essential has only sold 5,000 smartphones. One would think that the industry is hoping Essential fails, especially when Essential’s sales volume is being compared with the industry leaders of Apple and Samsung.

From one perspective, if the Essential PH-1 is a comparable device to the latest from Samsung and indeed the rest of the smartphone industry, the device should be compared with them including sales numbers. Essential is still relatively unknown in the smartphone industry although the company, owned and led by Andy Rubin, contains many industry professionals from companies as diverse as Apple and HTC. How do Sprint’s sales for a given flagship compare with Verizon, AT&T, or T-Mobile? The American market is not a level playing field, and BayStreet Research has produced interesting data, which can so easily be misconstrued.

Unfortunately, for Essential, this is not the first time Sprint has taken on a device as an exclusive, and for one reason or another, the product has failed to capture the imagination of consumers across the world. When Palm released the original Palm Pré, running Web OS, it was years ahead of the competition in many ways. The Palm Pré, however, was not without its faults, and one of these was the device hamstrung by being an exclusive on the Sprint network. Palm put up a brave fight but was ultimately sold to HP, and the less written about the break up of Palm’s intellectual property said the better! The Web OS platform is now owned by LG and is still in use on smart TVs of all things.

Essential has navigated the delicate waters between obtaining regulatory and carrier approval for their first device. Verizon, notorious for taking months to approve updates, took months to approve the Essential PH-1. Meanwhile, the company would rather forget about their email problem and trademark case, going weeks without explaining what was happening to the device. The Essential PH-1 is not perfect – early customers have experienced some software glitches and the camera underperforms. The company is still refining the smartphone and one could argue that $700 is a lot to pay for a beta-like product. The same can be said for all smartphones: Apple still releases software updates that brick their devices, and every year Samsung excitedly explains that their user interface doesn’t lag any more, but they’ve been promising this for years now.

Rubin has made it clear that the Essential PH-1 is their first smartphone, and that we should anticipate others. He has also explained that their smartphone line is just one part of Essential’s story, which will see many different devices running their digital assistant. The current family includes the Essential Home, a smart hub for the home. The company has an estimated value of over $1 billion and is considered to be a startup to watch.Sprint is aggressively offering the Essential PH-1 at a discounted rate of around $14 per month over eighteen months, but has the headwind of being the smallest carrier in a fiercely competitive carrier landscape. They are also offering Essential’s 360-degree camera for $200 (or about $16 over twelve months) – a camera with a more powerful chipset than many entry-level ‘phones. There will be good reasons why the Essential PH-1 is a Sprint exclusive, but I cannot help but wonder how things would be different if the device were available on more carriers, in more markets. 

SOURCE [Fierce Wireless]

About David Steele 234 Articles
David has been using smartphones since the start of the industry but found his home with Android back in 2011 using an early Dell Stream device. Today, he uses the Nexus 5X and Sony Xperia Z Tablet as primary devices, but you'll also see him with his coffee cup and Chromebook.