The man who created Android, the most popular mobile software on the planet, is preparing his follow up act and it involves going after his longtime nemesis: Apple’s iPhone and its iOS rival software.
Andy Rubin, who left Google more than two years ago after selling his startup to the search giant in 2005, is starting Essential, a consumer hardware company that aims to tie multiple devices together, according to a report Friday by Bloomberg. Rubin will serve as CEO.
The highlight of Essential’s suite of hardware products is a high-end smartphone with a large screen and no bezel, according to the report. It’s meant to compete against the iPhone and premium Android phones. The idea is that the devices will be able get new hardware updates to keep them from getting stale.
A representative for Rubin declined to comment.
Essential represents a return to the mobile business for Rubin, an industry he helped pioneer. When he started Android more than a decade ago, Apple had yet to release its iPhone and most of the world was still using flip and feature phones, with little or no access to the internet. Today, Android powers almost nine out of every 10 of the world’s smartphones. It’s also one of the most integral parts of Google’s future.
Rubin’s new company, which is still just in prototype mode, also seeks to address one of consumers’ biggest frustrations as the nascent smart home industry tries to drag itself into the mainstream: getting several disparate devices to work with each other.
Silicon Valley has already taken big steps to try and get regular people to buy into the vision of a home that does things for you. Amazon’s Echo, powered by its voice assistant Alexa, is a surprise hit. Rubin’s former employer followed suit with its own smart home hub, called Google Home, late last year.
In 2014, Rubin left Google, where he had been leading the company’s robotics division. (Since his departure, that group was disbanded.) Six months later, he announced his new company, Playground Global, a firm that nurtures young hardware startups. Essential is Rubin’s first return to a true entrepreneur role since Android.
For the company, Rubin has brought on executives with pedigrees from Google, Apple and Samsung, according to Bloomberg.