Augmented reality matures: Blippar confirms Layar acquisition, no immediate plans to rock the boat

Augmented reality matures: Blippar confirms Layar acquisition, no immediate plans to rock the boat

UK and US-based augmented reality company Blippar has snapped up its Dutch rival Layar for an undisclosed all-cash sum, the company confirmed today following rumors of the deal last week.

According to Blippar’s CEO Ambarish Mitra, the acquisition is perfectly complementary and only took three to four months to complete.

Blippar focuses on adding a layer of interactive content to the physical world, most often tied in with a brand’s marketing activities, so you might see it partner with Walker’s Crisps to bring you weather forecasts directly from the packet. More recently the company demonstrated its app running on Google Glass, which removes another barrier for augmented reality adoption from the masses, namely, having to get your phone out of your pocket.


Layar, while working on largely the same activities around adding layers of content over the physical world, has been approaching the market in a slightly different way according to Mitra. As such, he says Layar was never really viewed as a rival.

“We’ve always done very exciting and big things, working with Pepsi, Coke, Unilever and P&G’s of the world. While we were doing that, Layar was working very neatly on the long-tail of the business mode, they were going after smaller-to-medium businesses that we weren’t focusing on.”

For an ever-evolving technology like augmented reality, growing your user base into new business areas overnight is obviously a key advantage of a deal like this; Blippar can now claim some 50 million users in total.

“They [Layar] started at the long-tail wanting to move to the premium side of the business, and we started at the premium ending up wanting to head towards the long-tail eventually. So, we ended up in a good place with combining forces – today we have almost a 100 percent share of the AR consumer market,” Mitra told us.

A learning experience

More than that though, the company is gaining the experience and benefit of like-minded people and combined R&D efforts – things which are hard to put a monetary value on in the long-term. Mitra added that he sees no immediate changes to the Layar workforce, its business or the way in which the company currently works.

“It’s truly complementary at this stage, the team isn’t massive – it’s about 30 or 40 people – and we were on a massive recruitment drive anyway, so we’re already getting some of the talent in the R&D, which is making our R&D effort even stronger.”

And what about the longer term interoperability pledges made quite publicly by Layar to Metaio and Wikitude?

“It was a series of meetings, the pledge wasn’t contractual in nature – it was a series of meetings that led to press releases, but nothing concrete has been done about it.

What definitely will happen is an element of interoperability between Layar and Blippar in the short-to-medium term, where Layar content will work on Blippar too, but we would be open to such discussions with other players,” Mitra said.

So, it seems that particular door is being left open. Or at least ajar.

Featured Image Credit – Robyn Beck/AFP/Getty Images

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