'Visual discovery' platform Blippar is to reduce the size of its Japan operation following the adoption of a licence model. Assieh Khamsi, a spokesperson for the company based in London, said that Blippar would not be closing the office entirely but will "reduce the size of our presence and will also continue to support [Japan] as well as the rest of the Asian region from our Singapore office". Khamsi was not able to say how many staff will remain in Japan.
In an email confirming his resignation, MD of nearly three years Sean Nichols said the change in business model removed the need for local offices. A total of 20 staff worked at Blippar on a full and part-time basis.
Nichols said in the email that the move should not be seen as reflective of “a weakness of the technology in any way”. “Blippar will continue to maintain the highest level of R&D and sustained technology in the AR space,” he said. The platform remains available for free use by brands and developers in Japan in what Blippar describes as the "democratisation of AR". Nichols said Blippar's change of direction aims to put the technology directly in the hands of those who "believe strongly in AR".
Blippar’s Japan office opened officially last year, but the response from marketers to AR has been tepid in Japan, which Nichols acknowledged in an interview last year. The launch of Pokemon Go in August sparked optimism for renewed interest in the technology and in Blippar itself, which the company claimed has search-recognition ability equivalent to an 8-year-old child.
Numerous brands, such as Chivas Regal and Coca-Cola, have experimented with Blippar in recent months, with varying degrees of success. Observers have noted the Blippar is not widely known as a platform in Japan, and suggested the fact that users are required to download the application is a stumbling block to widespread exposure for brands hoping to be ‘blipped’.
Blippar was established in London in 2011 and had offices in the US, Singapore, India and Turkey as well as Japan. Nichols worked at a number of agencies including Dentsu and Hakuhodo before joining the company in 2014. He will remain in Japan and continue to work in the digital field, he said.
This article has been updated to reflect that Blippar's Japan office will not close entirely but will be reduced in size and managed from Singapore.