Enterprise

Essential shuts down, ending the Essential Phone

Rest in peace

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Years ago, the Essential Phone earned its bit of the limelight. Going up against a downpour of identical phones, Andy Rubin’s smartphone promised a refreshing change for a disenchanted market. On launch, it delivered on its grand promise, outing a powerful, edge-to-edge display for a workable price.

Unfortunately, Essential, the company, never developed a promising follow-up for the Essential Phone. In fact, Essential’s history has been tumultuous since the Essential Phone’s launch. Since then, Essential has downsized the company, repeatedly reduced the original phone’s price, and failed to deliver on promised devices. Most recently, the company stopped further production of the Essential Phone.

Now, the inevitable has finally happened. In an official blog post, Essential is closing shop, ending operations as a company.

In its final exit, Essential is leaving behind an unfinished Project GEM. After shutting the Essential Phone 2 down, the company hinted at an extra-long smartphone, a new mobile experience unlike any other. Because of today’s announcement, Project GEM will never see the light of day. “Despite our best efforts, we’ve now taken Gem as far as we can and regrettably have no clear path to deliver it to customers,” Essential said.

Further, Essential has also released its final update for the Essential Phone, rolled out on February 3. Though still functional indefinitely, Essential Phone users will not receive any support from the company anymore. When it was still operation, the company outed consistent updates for its fans, including one of the earliest accesses to Android Pie. If anything, Essential will provide development resources to the public, ensuring crowd-sourced support, at the very least.

Regardless, Essential is officially dead. For real this time.

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Enterprise

Netflix co-founder Reed Hastings steps down as CEO

Names new successor

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Netflix’s 2022 was rocky, to say the least. After dropping long-time subscribers for the first time in a while, the streaming platform has resorted to a variety of strategies to entice users to stay. While only a few of the new initiatives have resulted in positive change, the company is still on its uphill climb to regain its position atop other streaming giants. Now, Netflix is moving towards more drastic changes.

As revealed by the platform’s quarterly earnings, Netflix co-founder Reed Hastings has stepped down as co-CEO of the company. However, Hastings will not completely leave the company. Instead, the co-founder will assume the role of executive chairman, leaving Ted Sarandos and the newly appointed Greg Peters as co-CEOs.

Currently, neither Hastings nor Netflix has revealed why the former is stepping down from the position. Of note, the platform even posted a growth in subscriber count for the past quarter. Netflix added 7.7 million new subscribers, eclipsing a projected growth of only 4.5 million subscribers. At the very least, Hastings has confirmed that he wants to work on share value and philanthropy going forward.

Last year, Netflix added new ways for users to engage with the platform. Now, besides watching movies and series, subscribers can play a gallery of mobile games. Users can also avail themselves of cheaper subscription plans supported by ads.

SEE ALSO: Netflix expands sports lineup for 2023

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Enterprise

Apple is preparing to open its first stores in India

Based on new job listings

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For one of the largest smartphone markets in the world, India is one of the rarer countries where Apple does not outright dominate. Undoubtedly, the company is trying to change that. Ongoing job listings in India are suggesting that Apple is ready to open its first brick-and-mortar store in the country.

First reported by Financial Times, Apple has posted job openings in India for several retail roles including for the iconic Genius Bar. Another clue even indicates that some spots have already been filled ahead of time. A few employees in the country have reportedly posted about their new jobs on LinkedIn.

Unfortunately, none of the job listings show how many stores are planned and where they will be. Narrowing things down by a bit, a few of the confirmed employees are from Mumbai and New Delhi. The report also does not indicate when the stores will open. However, since a few have already been hired, a grand opening might be coming soon.

Apple has a lot to gain by strengthening its foothold in India. The country is an important stronghold for smartphone companies. However, the company might find things harder as time goes by. The country recently dictated that brands must switch to USB-C if they want to sell their devices in India. All over the world, Apple remains the last stalwart against adopting the more universal standard.

SEE ALSO: Google throws more RCS-flavored shade at Apple

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Enterprise

Samsung hires Mercedes-Benz alum to head design team

Will handle Galaxy S, Galaxy Z, among others

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Outside of the arms race of maximizing hardware, another important battle is the persistent evolution of design. A friendly and approachable design just adds the necessary pizzaz to make an otherwise bland device pop off the shelves. Pushing the next evolution of design for the brand, Samsung has hired a Mercedes-Benz alum to head its Mobile eXperience Design Team.

Today, Samsung has announced the hiring of Hubert H. Lee as the head of the MX team, which handles Samsung’s most popular designs. Formerly, Lee was the chief design officer of Mercedes-Benz China. During his tenure as the carmaker’s designer, Lee spearheaded several projects in both China and the United States. He also bagged awards at his former position.

Now, as part of the Samsung MX team, Lee is in charge of the designs of the Galaxy S, Galaxy Z, and Galaxy Watch series. Given the timing of Samsung’s usual product cycles, Lee’s contributions will likely affect the Galaxy S24 series, rather than the upcoming Galaxy S23 series. Samsung is already pegged to launch the next flagship series sometime in early February.

Still, a new design head sparks some optimism for the South Korean brand. The effect of brilliant design is remarkably palpable for tech companies. For example, Samsung’s primary rival Apple still relies heavily on the contributions of its former design chief, Jony Ive.

SEE ALSO: Galaxy S23 is launching early February, report says

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