BayStreet Research financial analysts say that Sprint has sold just 5,000 Essential smartphones since its launch earlier this month, as reported here by FierceWireless. My guess is that the figure is based on channel checks, in which analysts call around random stores and ask how many units they’ve sold, and then add those up to create an estimate. Given the number is so low, I’m guessing the analysts found an average of just one sale per store. None of this should surprise anyone – I’ve been skeptical about Essential right from the start, and though I’d guess it’s sold quite a few more devices through its own online store than Sprint has, the numbers are likely still very small. Given the massive financial backing Essential has received, it’s got plenty of runway to go to figure all this out, possibly including a broader carrier distribution once its exclusivity arrangement with Sprint is over. But it’s increasingly clear that even a well-reviewed phone from a name with a history in the industry can’t break through the oligopoly that is the US smartphone market.
This effort has been underway for some time, but mostly among smaller players at the periphery, not the big studios. But it now appears that major movie studios are becoming more open to the idea of at-home rentals within weeks of theatrical openings for at least some of their movies. The thinking is apparently that the studios have to give consumers what they want or they’ll find it illegally, though I’m not sure that $50 at-home rentals two and a half weeks after opening is exactly “what consumers want”. Unless you have a large group, that’s going to be significantly more than you’re paying for movie tickets, and you’ll still have to wait 17 days. Of course, theater owners make far higher margins on concessions than they do on showing movies, and that revenue goes away entirely under this scenario, so the studios are having to promise to compensate cinema chains for any lost revenue, which is partly why the cost is so high. Lots of evidence here that, though the industry understands the need for change, it’s still resistant to really giving people what they want, largely because the existing value chain is so entrenched, which is very similar to the dynamic in the closely related TV industry.