Creator of Android Andrew Rubin’s new startup has raised $300 million in a new round of fundraising.
Essential is the new smartphone, that will be released in time for this year’s holiday season – competing directly with new Samsung and Apple devices. The release date will be revealed next week.
Investors in the new phone included Tencent Holdings Ltd (HKG:0700), electronics contract manufacturer Foxconn (TPE:2354) and Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN).
This is Amazon’s second attempt to back a smartphone. The company’s own smartphone, the Fire, was launched in July 2014, but failed to make a dent in the overall smartphone market.
Rubin also hopes to release a smart speaker next year. The Essential Home speaker will be able to interact with various other smart technology. Users can use Amazon’s Alexa virtual assistant, Apple’s Siri (NASDAQ:AAPL) or Google’s (NASDAQ:GOOGL) Assistant to control the device.
The director of corporate development at Amazon’s Alexa Fund, Paul Bernard, said he was looking forward to working with Essential.
“Essential Products has a compelling vision and roadmap for connected devices that integrates voice technology in novel ways,” he said in a statement. “We are excited to see Alexa become part of that vision where interacting with technology is simple, helpful, and creates an interface that others can build on and innovate.”
Bob O’Donnell of Technalysis Research said of the new phone: “It’s going to be extraordinarily challenging. The initial specs of the phone look good, but not necessarily unique.”
Essential remain very confident.
“Over the next five to 10 years, we will have the same retail footprint and product diversity as Samsung and Apple,” said President Niccolo De Masi in an interview.