Report: Google Is Buying Light-Field Camera Startup Lytro for About $40M

Google Acquiring Lytro
Credit: ExpertReviews

Multiple sources claim that Google is making a move to buy Lytro, an imaging startup specialising in light-field technology.

Founded in 2006, the company created the first consumer camera that uses light-field technology. The technology allows the camera to refocus to any parts of the picture even after it is taken. Lytro’s first camera came out in 2012. It had a touchscreen on one end and a lens on the other and was housed in a red tube.

Their second generation camera, the Lytro Illum, came out in 2014. Unfortunately, both models didn’t do very well on sales despite their 12-year experience in the field. More recently, the company has been focusing on professional camera technology for filmmaking and capturing VR video.

TechCrunch reports that one source has described the acquisition as an asset-sale. Apparently, this sale will go for no more than $40 million.

Their other sources claim that it was actually shopped around to other companies including Facebook for $25 million. Apple was also included in the list according to another source. There’s also a vague information about the company’s employees already receiving severance pay while some just left.

The sale will also include Lytro’s 59 patents related to light-field and digital imaging technologies if it is finalized. This is something that Google could actually have a lot of use for.

Forty million dollars might sound quite a lot to you and me but this is actually not a good deal for Lytro.

The startup company raised about $200 million in funding over the years. As recent as 2017, it was valued at around $360 million.

Although there are no concrete details of this acquisition, it is very likely that Google is eyeing up Lytro to bolster their own VR efforts. Just last week, the tech giant introduced an app that to display immersive photography in virtual reality called Light Fields.


Blackberry, How will you say goodbye?

The boat is sinking, group yourselves with the rest. Ok, that is not how the game works but it’s just what the customers of the dying business giant, RIM, might do. The company that brought us the Blackberry has just recently announced another losing quarter. They are really in the dumps as the support and adaptation of their platforms continue to dwindle. They announce that they are now looking into other options available to them might just hint that the Blackberry platform is bound to oblivion.

RIM ‘s Blackberry was not bad; it just outlived its time. The platform has been dropping alongside fellow former giant Nokia. Blackberry was the early definition of a smartphone. It still is, just a little less smart than today’s smart phones. They haven’t improved much, and the recent attempt at playing with the big boys – the Playbook – was a sure-fire dud.

RIM ‘s biggest partners that kept them alive for so long are the loyal companies that keep the Blackberry as their corporate phones. It was secure, durable, simple yet functional. It provided what the business needs, minus the fear of security leaks. Now these partners are leaving the scene as soon as BYOD – Bring your own device- became popular. Employees now bring in their iPhones and Androids to work, which leaves Blackberry a true thing of the past.

Does RIM ‘s Blackberry still have a chance? Most probably not. That is why RIM is looking into other options that will keep the company alive while ditching the Blackberry platform.

One method they could do to possibly soften the blow, is to sell their patents. They have their own laundry list of patents for the Blackberry that can provide a huge leverage in the Legal Wars of the Smartphones. They can at least benefit a bit from the loss of the Blackberry and use the profits in their other options. Launching a new type of smartphone may be too late at this point, unless they are willing to join the Android OS horde.

So what does RIM have in their pockets to stay afloat despite losing their biggest lifeboat? There is a technology they pioneered called MDM – Mobile Device Management. Its goal was to allow corporate management of the Blackberry phones so that they can maintain corporate security. They made a good move towards this goal by launching the Blackberry Mobile Fusion, which allows access of iOS and Android OS to access the Blackberry Enterprise Server. Once Blackberry is gone, they can still cater the services they provide to iOS and Android OS users.

This may be the beginning of a new direction for RIM. They may rise again in a different field later on or go back to the smartphone battle with a vengeance, given some time to develop something new. While RIM might be down right now, they can still avoid going out. A few decisions must be made, and the world is watching what they will do.

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