Will.i.am’s ‘i.am+’ Abandons Its Purchase of Earin Bluetooth Earbuds

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Audio startup Earin has announced that Will.i.am’s company i.am+ will not be acquiring the company.

The world first learned about the acquisition at CES 2018, when the startup announced the deal for an undisclosed amount.  So why did the deal fall through?

In the announcement, Earin said the acquisition stalled due to “unfulfilled obligations,” but did not elaborate on that phrase.  Instead, the press release says the company intends to “return to its innovative roots” under its original leadership team.

Earin has had a troubled few years since it first announced truly wireless earbuds back in 2014.  The first model delivered to Kickstarter backers wasn’t the best attempt at wireless earbuds.  They featured miserable battery life and connectivity issues.

Earin’s second attempt in the wireless earbud market, dubbed the Earin M2, didn’t arrive until August of 2018.

With the release of Apple’s AirPods in 2016, third-party startups are struggling to gain a foothold.   Presently, Earin’s products aren’t well reviewed on Amazon or among tech critics.  A cursory search for their products returns mostly negative outlooks on its two models of wireless earbuds.

That’s about par for the course for products associated with Will.i.am’s tech company.  i.am+ has tried numerous times to break into the tech market with smartwatches and wireless earbuds.

All of i.am+’s product debuts have been reviewed horribly. Both the Puls and the Dial failed remarkably, even though the Dial included a voice-activated digital assistant called “AneedA.” The i.am+ website makes no mention of any of its past failed products.

Instead, the site focuses on an AI platform to deliver a human-like conversational experience.  But that’s a tall task against projects like Google Duplex, raising some questions over whether i.am+ is carving a competitive niche or merely following the pack.