Right now, Layer is a company with 32 employees and expects to add a lot of additional employees along 2010. Layar is funded by Sunstone Capital and Prime Technology.
Raimo van der Klein praises Android as development environment. Compared to the iPhone, it is very easy to share beta versions of their app between developers and testers without the hassle of working with device ID’s which slow down the process. At the same time, Android is also the most expensive platform for the company. Compared to the iPhone, fragmentation is much bigger.
The biggest problem for Layar is dependency on a variety of hardware sensors. Most of them have never been defined by Google/Android which means vendors implemented API’s for them according to their own logic (similar to the J2me problems). The company needs to make separate builds for pretty much every Android device. With 90 Android devices expected this year, they will have two fulltime developers just working on porting.
The number of downloads of the Layar clients is increasing month-on-month and show Android as a very strong platform for the client. Layar allows developers to create their own layers (or layars) for the Layar app. Currently they have about 17.000 of them online. 25 new ones are added on a daily basis which shows how popular this browser is becoming. These new layars are mainly coming from external developers, 2.400 of them from over 70 countries to be exactly.
Since the company started halfway through 2009, the company went through various transitions. First off, they started developing Layar as a fully closed environment and the company hoped to earn money from selling Layer creation services. Soon they found out, opening up development would dramatically increase content creation and popularity of the browser. The company now hopes to earn money with premium services and premium content. A sample of that would be a geo location based game that is under development with EA.
Still it is very hard for the company to form a solid business model. Though Layer creation is hot and many Layer developers earn good money with it (and even get funding), Layar itself is not really getting any revenues from those. In fact, the company has about two years left to start making money/find more investment or the whole project might die off. Next to premium content, Layar is also experimenting with TAB Worldmedia to facilitate content and entertainment based on GPS information. i.e. when a user stands next to an Alice in Wonderland billboard, they can get additional information and video’s through Layar.