The first smartphone from Essential, the new startup from Android creator Andy Rubin.
Courtesy of Essential
By Adam Lashinsky
August 10, 2017

This article first appeared in Data Sheet, Fortune’s daily newsletter on the top tech and gadget news. Sign up here.

Nicolo De Masi had me at “lovemark.” The president of Essential Products, the new smartphone and other device maker headed by Android founder Andy Rubin, De Masi said Wednesday that “in the Western world there is a need for there to be a new lovemark, a brand where there is an emotive connection for consumers,” according to The Wall Street Journal.

Essential’s audacity is one of three improbable stories that caught my eye of late. That this startup–which announced investments from Chinese heavyweight Tencent (tcehy) and American heavyweight Amazon (amzn) –thinks it can out-emote Apple and Samsung stands to be one of the great stories of the next 15 minutes.

Speaking of Samsung, how improbable is it that the scandal-plagued company is riding high even though its de facto leader awaits a judgement on a bribery charge and its smartphone profits blew up with the batteries of its last generation of phones? Nevertheless, brands, technical knowhow, scale, and smart investments compensate for many sins. I can’t think of a company that has thrived through such adversity.

Finally, there are the Chinese bike-sharing companies, including Mobike and Ofo. Their concept is revolutionary: borrow a bike via an app and park it anywhere when you’re done. But as The Wall Street Journal relates, chaos tends to follow the dockless bikes’ introductions. Billions have gone into this sector, which feels about as much like a fad as home-delivery of groceries. (Will people really cycle through the wintry streets of Beijing?)

Improbable, perhaps, but quite real all the same.

***

Yesterday’s essay about Netflix (nflx) and Disney (dis) drew considerable feedback from readers on the question of searching across multiple services. Many people pointed out that Roku has a powerful multi-service search function (the company claims to include more than 100 providers) while others highlighted useful third-party search options such as reelworld.com and canistream.it

Adam Lashinsky
@adamlashinsky
adam_lashinsky@fortune.com

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