2016 has been a rough year for smartwatches — not only did sales drop over 50 percent from last year, but the entire year has gone by without an update to Google’s Android Wear smartwatch operating system. Android Wear 2.0 is slated to arrive early next year, but it’s already seen considerable delays, and some Android Wear smartwatch makers have been hesitant to commit to refreshing their devices until then. To make the future of Android Wear even more opaque, indie smartwatch maker Cronologics has announced that they’ve been acquired by the Android Wear team.
Earlier this year, Cronologics had a successful Indiegogo campaign for the CoWatch, an upscale smartwatch that works with Amazon Alexa and runs their own Cronologics OS. The campaign brought in nearly $300,000, with units shipping out to customers only a few months ago. The company, founded by ex-Google employees, will now join the Android Wear team, per a brief announcement that now appears on the Cronologics website.
The announcement at one point says, “we are joining Google to help grow the portfolio of watches powered by Android Wear,” perhaps suggesting that elements of the Cronologics OS will be folded into Android Wear. Whether or not that means further delays are ahead for Android Wear 2.0 remains to be seen.
It’s also possible that the acquisition was made because of the CoWatch’s high-end design. With the release of the Pixel phone, it seems like Google is trying to take the same unified hardware/software approach that has powered Apple’s success — a Pixel Watch would make some sense within that strategy, although it may not matter in the face of the market’s tepid reaction to smartwatches thus far.
For CoWatch owners, the future is even less clear. The Cronologics website now only displays the announcement of the acquisition — it’s possible the CoWatch and the Cronologics OS will no longer be supported, although that’s not yet been confirmed or denied. The precedents don’t give reason for optimism — after acquiring the smart home hub company Revolv, Nest (in turn owned by Alphabet, Google’s parent company) shut down Revolv products completely in May, leaving customers with useless devices. The acquisition also echoes Fitbit’s recent acquisition of parts of Pebble, which saw support for Pebble products terminated.
Via GSM Arena