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Andy Rubin’s Essential Phone Looks Like a Huge Bust

September 27, 2017, 4:34 PM UTC

Android founder Andy Rubin helped build the software that now runs on billions of smartphones, but his new phone-making startup doesn’t seem to be catching on quite so much.

Rubin’s Essential has sold just 5,000 units since launching two weeks ago, market tracking firm BayStreet Research said on Wednesday, according to to a report in Fierce Wireless. That’s less than a rounding error on the 1.5 billion of annual smartphone sales and less than the amount of iPhones Apple (AAPL) sells every 15 minutes or so. If all 5,000 phones sold at full price, that would represent revenue of just $3.5 million.

Essential did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the report.

The reported slow sales stand in stark contrast to Essential’s $1 billion valuation from its venture capital backers, including Chinese manufacturing giant Foxconn. But the company has been hit by shipping delays, limited distribution and mediocre reviews. Rubin promised on May 30 that the Essential phone would be available within 30 days, but the device didn’t ship until mid-September.

Essential’s $700 smartphone has a 5.7-inch edge-to-edge screen, 128 GB of storage, and a unique titanium and ceramic body. The phone is not widely available, however, with only Sprint (S) carrying the device among the major U.S. carriers.

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Rubin created the Android operating system software that was bought by Google (GOOGL) in 2005 and now runs over 80% of the world’s smartphones. But Google took Rubin off the phone unit in 2013, and he left the company a year later and decided to to form Essential.