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BumpTop Buy Could Give Google New Perspective in OS Efforts

By Erika Morphy
May 3, 2010 11:56 AM PT

Google has acquired Bump Technologies, a company that has developed an application that transforms a computer desktop screen into a 3-D display.

BumpTop Buy Could Give Google New Perspective in OS Efforts

The app -- called "BumpTop" -- is compatible with multitouch display technology, a feature found on devices like Apple's iPad and iPhone.

That multitouch functionality has led to widespread speculation that Google has acquired the company in order to build an operating system that can better compete with -- or even exceed -- the functionality of Apple's iPhone OS, which is also found on the iPad.

Little else is known about the acquisition, other than its acknowledgement by Bump Technologies on its homepage.

Setting Course for Apple

Google and Apple have in the past acted as close collaborators. For example, the original iPhone launched with several Google-backed applications built-in. Now, however, that relationship appears to be much more competitive; rivalries between the two companies are developing in areas like mobile devices, computer operating systems, and even advertising.

Google's problem in competing with Apple has never been its functionality, Evan Bailyn, founder of First Page Sage, told the E-Commerce Times. "In that respect, it is quite strong. What it's never had, though, is sex appeal." The Bump Technologies acquisition, he said, will give Google that.

"It will give it, finally, something sexy in terms of a user interface to put on top of its OS," he explained.

Perhaps more to the point, it can be used to significantly enhance any operating system, Rob Enderle of the Enderle Group told the E-Commerce Times. "BumpTop is an advanced UI (user interface), which is designed to significantly enhance Windows," he said.

However, Google's ChromeOS is still in its early stages and could likely use this user interface to speed time to market, he continued.

"The BumpTop product, as it is, could be marketed as a Windows improvement tool and could perform the roll of Trojan Horse, reducing the perceived switching cost from Windows PCs running BumpTop and the ChromeOS and allowing the new OS to ramp more quickly," he said.

There is also sex appeal to the application, he acknowledged. "3-D in an interface significantly increases the visible real estate you are working with, and when done right like BumpTop did, it looks stunning, driving people to share and brag about their desktop, building demand.

"Handled properly, Bump-Top could be a strong tool to help Google grow share rapidly as they ramp their products to market," he concluded.

Too Much Data

Besides helping Google compete with Apple, the acquisition will also solve a problem that is beginning to impact all online firms, said Ron Burns, CEO of ProtonMedia, a company that develops 3-D platforms for collaboration.

"What Google is trying to do is develop a better interface for its next-generation OS that can help users absorb and understand the huge amount of data that we are compiling," he told the E-Commerce Times.

"Right now we have so much data that it is becoming easier to visualize it all with 3-D," he added.

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