The internet is full of gossip and rumours. That being said, sometimes the
source of those rumours are quite credible. In this case, this article is
mentioning that Layar is being bought by blipAR. We think this is true.
Why is do we think so?
Well, around two years ago we saw that Layar changed of leadership and direction. Layar founders while still in the company, didn’t took as much saying on the everyday tasks, this due to Layar naming an external CEO (Quintin Schevernels) to run the company. We can speculate that the naming of this external CEO was “suggested” by Layar investors. Immediately after
the change of leadership, the company canceled some experimental products (STIKTU) and focused on image based AR, leaving the geolocated section unattended. We are not questioning those changes, after all, a company has to make money to be alive, and these were the actions Layar thought it needed to survive. And survive it did! The company manage to get more than 30 million downloads of the app and made a business out of image recognition based AR, specially helping the printing industry.
On the other side, the change, left many developers (including us) with a sense of insecurity. Since the beginning Layar was built as an AR platform, at that it was very good. Well documented and easy to develop for, the changes made, left this area unattended, as such many developers left the platform, and focused on other ones like Qualcomm Vuforia, which is no coincidence, started to grow a lot after Layar change directions.
Last but not least, their iOS SDK was left to die into oblivion. It didn’t rotate the screen on iOS 6 and above. When we asked about when this situation might be corrected, the reply was: that SDK is no longer supported. This action accelerated our transfer of AR engine to Wikitude,
for Terra Icons. And for Android? Nothing more than a shortcut maker was ever made. The unfortunate thing is that those Layar provided tools were very good and well thought out. Is -also- no coincidence that the three Layar founders were all geeks (two men and one woman). Hence the products were well made to be developed for. But as it happens with many geeks, the fact that is good technically, doesn’t mean is good business wise.
Late last year Layar upgrade their iOS SDK and -finally- brought to life their Android SDK. It was expensive and -in our opinion- late to the game, many developers have already moved on. Could be that the printing industry got engage with it, we don’t know.
So, all those moves made us infer that Layar might be looking for a buyer, granted we didn’t have anyway to prove these theories, until that blog post was published.
It remains to be seen if Layar will continue independent after the acquisition or it will be absorbed completely by blipAR. Once thing is sure, Layar market might be big in AR, but is not that big that it would justify to be kept alone. As such, most probably one of the two will ceased to exist. Either Layar or BlipAR will continue operating, but not both. Maybe they’ll name them bliYAR 🙂