In a blog post today, Bump CEO and founder David Lieb announced that his company had been acquired by Google. Bump builds a set of proprietary technologies that allow devices to share data. The selling point is that users can exchange photos or contacts by simply bumping their phones together. What makes Bump different is that this transfer of data is not enabled by near-field-communication, or NFC, which is what normally powers this kind of exchange.
"There are two parts to Bump: the app running on your device and a smart-matching algorithm running on our servers in the cloud," the company explains in its FAQ. "The app on your phone uses the phone's sensors to literally 'feel' the bump, and it sends that info up to the cloud. The matching algorithm listens to the bumps from phones around the world and pairs up phones that felt the same bump. Then we just route information between the two phones in each pair."
Bump was able to reach a ton of users, achieving 60 million download in 2011. But it never managed to find much revenue or graduate beyond the realm of the novelty app. In July of last year it introduced Flock, a group photo-sharing service, but never found a ton of traction with that app either.
The company raised just under $20 million in total, so the sale to Google was likely a soft landing for a company that had interesting features but struggled to build a business. The blog post announcing the sale says both Bump and Flock will remain active for now. Google will likely look to incorporate the best elements of Bump's wireless data transfer and group photo-sharing into its own mobile phones and OS.