Sales Page Breakdown: How the Founder of Android Is Marketing His “Anti-iPhone”

Sales Page Breakdown: How the Founder of Android Is Marketing His “Anti-iPhone”

A few weeks ago, a huge announcement hit the tech world—Andy Rubin, the guy who created the Android operating system, was launching an all-new company that aims to be “the first great gadget maker since Apple,” as Wired described it.

Essential Phone

The company is called Essential Products, and its first product immediately grabbed headlines: a $699 smartphone called the Essential Phone.

The phone looked so beautiful I couldn’t wait to check out the pre-sale page the company had set up and find out everything about it. I was PUMPED.

But before I could even get halfway down the page, my enthusiasm was gone. It had totally lost me.

I turned to Twitter and quickly found I wasn’t alone.

Some folks couldn’t figure out what the page was even selling:

Others didn’t see what the product had to offer them:

Sure, these tweets didn’t represent all of the response to the Essential Phone page (some of which was extremely enthusiastic), but they confirmed the same feeling I had when experiencing it for the first time: this page did not come close to the potential of the product.

So I decided to investigate, section by section, exactly what was happening. The result is a visual breakdown of the entire page you can view below.

It works like a slideshow: just click the arrow on the right side to advance (after you click the first time you can simply use your arrow keys).

If you’re on mobile, turn your phone to landscape for the best experience!

Before we go on, there’s an important point to acknowledge: with all the iPhone comparisons, it’s tempting to analyze this product as a mass-market competitor to companies like Apple and Samsung. But that’s not what it is yet. Enter this excerpt from the Wired article:

If Essential sells 50 million phones this quarter, Jason Keats, the company’s head of product architecture, is totally screwed. Essential simply cannot produce that many phones. That’s the point. “We’ve gone after technologies and methods of manufacturing that aren’t designed to support 50 million devices,” he says. He wants Essential to think like a high-end watchmaker, not a commodity gadget builder…” We’re not for everybody,” Keats says. “You know it’s going to be a little exclusive.”

With that in mind, it’s easier to understand why the Essential phone sales page emphasized certain things that the average consumer probably doesn’t care about.

Still though, I think this quote gets to the heart of what I believe was somewhat buried on the page:

Rubin wants the Essential phone to clearly and emphatically state that the person carrying it isn’t won over by marketing, isn’t a fanboy, isn’t driven by trends.

That’s the “anti-iPhone” sentiment that I repeatedly wished was more evident throughout the breakdown. That, along with Essential’s open source ethos, is this product’s big idea. And I think it’s a message that will connect a lot more with the buyers they’re going after right now than simply showcasing a 360 camera will.

So, what do you think of Essential’s page? Leave a comment and let me know!

P.S. What did you think of this visual breakdown format? It was inspired by two things: 1) the work I’ve done as an editorial advisor for Hardbound, and 2) the excellent onboarding teardowns Samuel Hulick does at, which I’ve been a fan of for a long time.

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  • Loved the visual breakdown concept, Will. At first I thought “there’s no way I’m going to make it through 128 slides..”

    …But they were crisp ‘n fast, did a great breakdown of copy, and the humor/surprise kept me clicking “next”.

    How long did it take you to make that? Or costs to outsource?

    • Thanks, Brent! Yeah, I was actually wishing I could hide the total slide count because I thought it would be intimidating — really glad to hear it didn’t feel too long though.

      I’d say it took me roughly the same amount of time it would have to write up a full blog post. Probably 6 or 7 hours total. I used Keynote, and all the illustrations of myself were just Bitmoji that I copy/pasted. 🙂

      • Steven

        Maybe it’s a good idea to let the reader know on the cover slide how long it will take to shuffle through all the slides?

        It took me about 3 minutes, much more reassuring!

        • Ahhh, love that idea! Adding that now. Thanks, Steven.

          • Steven

            You’re welcome 🙂

  • Hey Will, I really liked the new format.

    I can’t imagine I would have read that much information if it was in a blog post. Combining the short bits of text with the cartoon character’s expressions really works for me. It’s funny and makes you feel like you are listening to a friend describe their experience rather than reading a review.

    Also it worked better than video for me, maybe because I was able to direct the speed, or maybe because it was different. I often find my mind drifting off in videos with consistent tone and speed. It’s like listening to a bedtime story.

    Anyway, great experiment, thumbs up from me.

    • Thank you, Kerstin! That’s great to hear — exactly what I was going for. I have that same problem with videos. Glad you enjoyed it. 🙂

  • LJ Sedgwick

    This was a fantastic format! I loved the humour in the slides, but it was more of a fun format than use watching a video (which I usually skip).

    • Thanks, LJ! I really appreciate that. I have that same problem with video. I wonder why that is?

      • LJ Sedgwick

        I was wondering if it’s because you’re stuck watching the video at their pace…plus I read faster than I listen!

  • I’m sitting here applauding a bitmoji. So that’s a creepy thumbs-up from me Will.

    Love the new format, definitely up for another round.

    Oh, and slide 49 may be the funniest thing I’ve ever seen in a sales page teardown…

    • Haha, thanks Peter! As soon as I came across that bitmoji I knew I had to find a place to use it. Slide 49 fit the bill. 🙂

  • You’ve done it again, Will. Breaking trends and naming names. You’re a great teacher!

    • Hahaha thanks so much, Kevin! Copy Chief has been an inspiration. 🙂

  • larry

    A fun copy critique! Really enjoyed reading and learning from it