Augmented reality leads many people to poetic hyperbole, as this interview shows, but Layar is building its momentum very quickly:
Maarten Lens-FitzGerald, one of Layar’s founders and current general manager was kind enough to answer some of my questions in the following short interview.
For the rest of the year we had four principles that worked for us: sense, scale, open and pull.
Sense means that we don’t always understand everything but trust that on a deeper level we know what direction to take. The mobile industry moves swiftly and is very complex. We trust our instincts most of the time and are not the types for elaborate business planning. It’s no coincidence we are in the sensing business.
Scale means that we create systems that can grow. Augmented Reality is an economy of abundance. There is no limit. We host in the cloud, limitless scalability as the Lakers – Celtics effect showed us. We also don’t know what is relevant in Argentina or Tokyo. That’s why we don’t do content. Others make it, and make a good business when they sell their layer work and AR. We can’t talk to everyone to make a business. But together with the developers and publishers we can. And another one is that we knew the Layer catalog wouldn’t scale for the many, many layers and their content. You need a discovery mechanism to open up the augmented world. Like the EPG for TV, Google for the web etc. That’s why we launched Stream.
Open means that we share and give away as much as we can. The internet has great examples of openness like the protocols, websites like Wikipedia and software like Apache. This helps us see that to scale we need to be open. To last we need to be open, to give away and share the opportunity. We love the idea of infrastructure and its ideals. AR needs infrastructure and hopefully Layar can help by being open as much as we can.
Pull means that we don’t push. We don’t call people and try to sell our product. We don’t do anything that costs too much time and energy. We’d rather put the energy in a great product that attracts, that pulls everyone to us. Instead of spending money and a big marketing campaign we’d rather create a great feature that everyone will talk about and can be introduced with one blog post. John Hagel was a good inspiration for us for this.
For us this works, they are principles we work by and that are closely linked together.
I guess we’ll have to see if Layar becomes another Tivo: emblematic of a fundamental transition in communications and media, but unable to capitalize on it in a large way. Remains to be seen if they can compete with folks like Google.