In its latest acquisition, Google has scooped up Bump Technologies. The company is widely known as the developer of BumpTop, a free app that makes a traditional computer desktop look like a real-world desk with stylus interaction.
When consumers use BumpTop, documents appear as 3-D boxes that display on a virtual desk. Users can position the boxes on the virtual desk using a mouse or a stylus. BumpTop works to present a realistic experience with effects like bumping and tossing, stacking boxes, selecting multiple items with a single swipe and pie menus.
"More than three years ago, we set out to completely change the way people use their desktops. We're very grateful for all your support over that time -- not just financially but also through all the encouraging messages from people who found BumpTop inspiring, useful, and just downright fun," the company said on its homepage announcement about the Google acquisition.
A 3-D Tablet?
Greg Sterling, principal analyst at Sterling Market Intelligence, called Google's latest acquisition "interesting" and one that could potentially be used on Android handsets or tablets or on the anticipated Chrome OS netbooks that are anticipated for release later this year.
However, he added, many of Google's original equipment manufacturer (OEM) partners, including Motorola and HTC, have their own software interfaces. That means Google OEM's might not participate if the search engine giant offered a new 3-D Android UI.
Beyond tablet devices, Google may also be considering how to integrate the BumpTop "desktop" for Google Docs or Apps, Sterling said, with the caveat that his comments on the Docs and Apps front are speculation.
"People will automatically assume it's an effort to differentiate from Windows or Apple. I saw the TED demo that the CEO gave and found it interesting but not remarkable," Sterling said. "Perhaps with some of Google's resources and additional development it could become really useful and impressive, rather than just gimmicky, which I what I think it is now. "
A $35 Million Deal
Google did not disclose the financial terms of the deal. However, Mark McQueen, President and CEO of Wellington Financial LP, estimates the acquisition price was no greater than $63 million since Google did not make a public acquisition announcement. McQueen is guessing the price was between $35 million and $40 million.
According to the company, Google's acquisition of BumpTop means that the software will no longer be available for sale and no product updates are planned for the Windows or Mac versions of the software. However, BumpTop is making the software available for one last week.
Google hasn't been as active as newly-found rival Apple on the acquisition front. But Google is making strategic moves. Last week, the company acquired LabPixies, which develops game and calendar apps users can post on personal web pages. Google also announced the intent to acquire AdMob earlier this year.