Google has purchased Bump.
Bump allows users to exchange data simply by tapping their mobile devices together; instead of relying on Near-Field Communication (NFC) technology, however, Bump software leverages the devices’ sensors to, in the company’s words, “’feel’ the bump.” Post-bump, the data is sent to the cloud and routed to the recipient’s phone.
The “bump” requires a strong Web connection; supported devices include those running iOS and Android, with the ability to cooperate across platforms. In addition to swiping contact info, Bump allows users to exchange data such as photos (in fact, the company emphasized that image-sharing ability with its Flock app, released in 2011).
In a blog posting, Bump CEO and co-founded David Lieb suggested that his company’s core applications would continue to work as normal “for now,” with future updates possibly on the way.
Bump launched in 2009 and enjoyed some rapid growth, with 50 million people having installed the free app on their smartphones by 2011. Halfway through 2013, the company’s statistics included 125 million downloads, 1 billion photos transferred, and 25 employees hard at work on improving the software. But Bump hadn’t yet stumbled on a way to monetize its service to the degree its investors were probably demanding, which may have helped trigger the Google deal.
Other smartphone-makers have developed technology similar to bump: BlackBerry Tag, released in 2011, let users exchange contact info by bumping BlackBerry devices together; that app relied on NFC. Nokia has also experimented with transfer-by-bumping. The question now is what Google will do with Bump to advance the technology to the next stage, although there’s also the possibility that the search-engine giant made the acquisition simply to keep the smaller company out of another tech firm’s hands.