Smart platform provider Wink has been acquired by i.am+, which is owned by entrepreneur and Black Eyed Peas singer will.i.am. The buyer paid US$38.7 million upfront plus a $20 million commitment for future manufacturing work, according to TechCrunch.
“Wink app and Wink Hub will continue to operate just as they have. The acquisition doesn’t change anything with regards to the Wink user experience,” said Wink on a memo sent to its users.
The company said it will introduce a number of in-app features and partner integrations in the coming months.
The smart home platform company’s history is not easy and smooth. It started as part of the incubator Quirky, and was later sold to Flextronics to pay off Quirky’s debt after it went bankrupt in 2015. Since then, Flex has been manufacturing Wink’s hardware, including smart home hub and touchscreen home controller.
Wink has become one of the more popular smart home platforms. It claims to have 1.3 million devices connected in its network and is adding 20,000 more every week. However, it is facing fierce competition in the market, which now has Amazon’s Alexa platform, Google’s Google Home, Samsung’s SmartThings and Apple’s HomeKit.
Being owned by a new company could help Wink grow in some other ways. Nonetheless, i.am+ doesn’t have a good reputation based on its past technology endeavors.
Back in 2014, the singer’s company released a smartwatch called Puls, which was criticized as ugly, uncomfortable and a “wearable nightmare” by technology blog Mashable. Follow-up products included an iPhone case which turned the smartphone into a high-end camera and cost more than $300; a smartwatch that was available in UK but died upon arrival; and wireless Bluetooth headphones that look like Apple’s AirPods. None of them went to the mainstream market.
The deal is a milestone for will.i.am, for it marks the company’s first foray into the smart home sector. Wink’s future, on the other hand, looks very uncertain at this stage.