Google acquires Cronologics to boost Android Wear

Google has acquired Cronologics and its smartwatch platform for an undisclosed sum to give its own Android Wear business a lift.

Cronologics was a 2-year-old startup headquartered in San Mateo, Calif. The company sought to simplify the process of developing “wearable hardware and software-driven experiences” using a common architecture.

VentureBeat was among the first to report the news.

“We started Cronologics in 2014 as a platform for smart, diverse smartwatches,” Cronologics announced on the company’s website. “Today, we’re excited to announce the next phase of our journey – we are joining Google to help grow the portfolio of watches powered by Android Wear. We see strong alignment with Android Wear’s mission and look forward to working with our new colleagues at Google to continue pushing the frontier of wearable technology and smartwatches with Android Wear 2.0 and beyond.”

The acquisition comes amid a smartwatch market that has fallen flat. IDC reported last week that the overall wearables market grew 3.1 percent year over year in the third quarter, and that modest traction was almost entirely to demand for fitness bands, which saw double-digit growth and accounted for 85 percent of the wearables market.

Apple claimed a mere 4.9 percent of the wearables market as Apple Watch shipments plummeted 71 percent, IDC estimated, although the company still owned 41 percent of the smartwatch market. Fitness bands from Fitbit, Xiaomi and Garmin all outpaced sales of the Apple Watch, although Apple CEO Tim Cook said recently that sales growth of the second generation Apple Watch is “off the charts.”

Google is said to be preparing two new smartwatches to be launched in the first few months of 2017. The gadgets are expected to run Android Wear 2.0 and to be designed around Google’s AI assistant.

The smartwatch market isn’t dead, of course, but developers and vendors have yet to come up with devices consumers find truly valuable. And it may take a few more years before they do so.

“Smart wearables have been down in recent quarters, but clearly not out,” IDC Research Manager Ramon Llamas said recently in a company press release. “As user tastes change, so will their needs. That’s the opportunity for smart wearables with multi-functionality and third-party applications, both for consumers and business users. To get there, we need to see more intuitive user interfaces, seamless user experiences, standalone connectivity, and applications that go beyond health and fitness and into personal and professional productivity.”