At the start of 2020, Essential announced that it would be shutting down after deciding there was "no clear path" to launch its new Project GEM phone to consumers. Fast-forward to the end of the year and several former Essential employees have started a new company.
OSOM Products is being led by Jason Keats, the former head of research and development at Essential, and eight of the nine employees at OSOM used to work at Essential. OSOM is placing a focus on privacy, with Keats telling CNET that he wants to give you more control over your data and what is shared with third-party apps.
OSOM — which stands for "Out of Sight, Out of Mind" — is planning to release seven or eight products in the next few years which are a mix of hardware and software. Keats isn't saying anything about what those products might be, but it sounds like an Android phone may be one of the devices in OSOM's plans.
Keats also teased that OSOM plans to offer premium hardware at a price that's lower than many of the flagships currently on the market. Think more in the range of $799 rather than $999.
"Our devices are targeted to be solidly in the middle of the accepted prices for whatever those products might be," Keats explained. "We're not targeting our products to ultra premium users, but we are going to build premium products. We can make money doing that because of a couple other surprises up our sleeves that will be announced next year."
Keats went on to explain that its goal isn't to make an unhackable device, but that users will be more in control of their data. That info will be stored on the user's device and OSOM will not have access to it. The company also wants allow users to control when something like their camera or GPS is turn off, all while making all of this security easy enough for anyone to understand.
OSOM is currently aiming to launch its first product in late 2021. Expect launches in the US and Europe at the same time, plus availability in parts of Asia.
While the Essential Phone had a rough launch, it became popular after a price cut made the premium device more affordable. The market for affordable Android flagships is even more competitive now than it was when the Essential Phone was available, but with the experience that OSOM has, we're definitely looking forward to seeing what kind of privacy-focused device that OSOM cooks up.