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AR mobile advertising startup Blippar joins forces with Layar to extend Augmented Reality’s reach

Does Aug­ment­ed Real­i­ty have a future in mobile adver­tis­ing? While some cyn­ics in the tech world have their doubts, New York-head­quar­tered Blip­par begs to dif­fer – and to push the tech­nol­o­gy fur­ther in mobile adver­tis­ing, it’s just acquired Nether­lands-based AR com­pa­ny Layar, whose plat­form extends across a slew of appli­ca­tions from adver­tis­ing to edu­ca­tion (Layar was found­ed in 2009, two years before Blip­par, and has raised $17 mil­lion in investment).

Join­ing forces to change the mobile adver­tis­ing world

Right now, Blip­par is being a lit­tle coy about the acqui­si­tion, inform­ing TechCrunch jour­nal­ist Ingrid Lun­den, “We can­not com­ment on mar­ket spec­u­la­tion at this stage, but Blip­par is ded­i­cat­ed to grow­ing the glob­al mar­ket­place for immer­sive, engag­ing con­tent, and part of this strat­e­gy may include acqui­si­tions lat­er in the year.”

But its founder and CEO, Ambar­ish Mitra, ver­bal­ly con­firmed that it’s a done deal, due to be offi­cial­ly announced on June 19th.

Layar’s CEO Quintin Schev­er­nels start­ed vis­it­ing Blippar’s NY office a few months back to dis­cuss, in Mitra’s words, “how we could work togeth­er to bring our vision to hun­dreds of mil­lions of people.”

By join­ing, the R&D fire­pow­er of the two star­tups will effec­tive­ly dou­ble and the poten­tial exists for pool­ing their pub­lish­er rela­tion­ships, extend­ing their audi­ence reach and also mov­ing into new mar­ket areas for AR mobile adver­tis­ing. As Mitra puts it:

“It gives us the best shot at tru­ly chang­ing the world. It opens doors to new oppor­tu­ni­ties and part­ner­ships, reduces risk on learn­ing from scratch, gives us head­space in mar­ket for whitelabels.”

AR’s sec­ond wind 

Cur­rent­ly Blip­par con­cen­trates its offer­ing on “blipps.” Users with the Blip­par app on their mobile devices can snap pic­tures of print and oth­er types of dis­play ad, where­upon the app opens up a pre­vi­ous­ly unseen inter­ac­tive dimen­sion to the ad. It’s now work­ing with thou­sands of companies.

Mitra is already think­ing ahead: the acqui­si­tion will allow the com­pa­ny to com­pete in the whole AR mar­ket­place, com­ing after new rivals with whom it didn’t pre­vi­ous­ly com­pete, like Vufo­ria and Metaio.

And those cyn­ics we referred to ear­li­er may well be tuck­ing in to a big slice of hum­ble pie right now, with prod­ucts like Ocu­lus VR (recent­ly snapped up by Face­book) and Meta giv­ing AR a whole new lease of life. The Blip­par-Lay­er mar­riage looks set to thrive.

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