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Former Essential Phone team creates OSOM, plans privacy-focused Android hardware in 2021

I loved the Essential Phone as it was built up following a rocky launch, but nothing could save Andy Rubin’s doomed hardware startup before it closed its doors early this year. Now, members of the team who helped create the Essential Phone have formed OSOM Privacy, and now they’ve got a bit to say, including a teaser for hardware coming in 2021.

Jason Keats, the “first hire” at Essential, helped form OSOM Privacy, a new startup that is made up primarily of ex-Essential employees. OSOM — which stands for “Out of Sight, Out of Mind” — will be working on its own hardware and software, releasing “seven or eight products” over the next three years. The first product is apparently set to launch in late 2021. The company revealed these plans speaking to CNET.

According to Keats, Essential had “80%” of an idea for a company but lacked a primary focus beyond offering a sleek piece of hardware designed to rival established flagships. That missing thing? Keats believes it’s privacy.

OSOM wants to become “the No. 1 tech brand associated with privacy in the world. Period.” But that doesn’t mean its products will be super secure or claim to be unhackable. Instead, OSOM plans to give users more control over their data, including having say over what’s shared with third-party apps.

A user can decide if something like a camera or GPS is turned off, and OSOM’s software will ensure that it doesn’t turn itself back on. Or if someone wants to send a photo from OSOM’s new device, it could scrape the metadata to protect your location and other sensitive information. While some of these capabilities are found in other devices, OSOM’s pitch is it will make securing your device easy enough that anyone — from kids to your grandfather — can do it.

That sounds intriguing! Maybe not runaway success exciting, but it’s definitely going to be interesting to see what arrives, especially if OSOM puts in the same effort for the physical hardware as Essential did. It sounds like that might be the case, too, as OSOM expects to “include premium hardware” but at lower prices. The other bit of good news? OSOM will stick with Android, just like Essential did, but it’s unclear if the company will live up to the same stellar software practices.

Our devices are targeted to be solidly in the middle of the accepted prices for whatever those products might be. 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.

When these products arrive, they’ll be available in the US, Europe, and parts of Asia.

Look back at Essential:

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