The fight for European predominance in Augmented Reality (AR) is a competitive one. Both Layar from the Netherlands and Wikitude, Austria, are working hard on establishing strategic distribution partnerships and strengthening their position with a raft of handset producers, mobile phone operators and producers of navigation systems. AR itself, of course, has been around for years, but the ubiquity of smartphones has opened up entirely new business models for this type of technology.
Layar, which has raised $16 million from Intel Capital, has a significant head-start given their respectable amount of cash in the bank. Not only cash but also by having scored a partnership with a global handset manufacturer, the startup is definitely the leader in Europe’s AR space.
However, Wikitude, which has significantly less funding, just announced a new addition to their team. Martin Herdina joins the company as their new CEO. He’s a seasoned entrepreneur who sold his last company Fatfoogoo to Digital River for $10m.
With Layar trying to become a somewhat standard for AR technology, Wikitude is focusing on their newly launched “Drive app”, which aims to become a replacement for existing navigation systems for cars and other vehicles.
While both companies seem to be going into slightly different directions, it will be interesting to see if either achieve an exit soon. AR is a rather hyped technology, yet established manufacturers are always keen on buying into the hot technologies of the day in an attempt to broaden their business models.