Apture was a browser plug-in that allowed publishers to add a mini-browser feature to their content. It worked with Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, and Apple’s Safari.
When readers highlighted a word or a phrase on the page, the tool would search for results from various sources, such as Wikipedia, Twitter, YouTube, Google, and many more, and display it in a small window.
Apture was founded in 2007 by Tristan Harris and Can Sar. It raised $4.6 million between its launch in 2008 and its acquisition by Google in 2011. The tool was used by big publishers such and Scientific American, The Economist, The Financial Times, Times of India, Reuters, and Scribd.
The service offered a solution for an essential issue content creators had – keeping readers on their page. While going through an article, users would often find something they didn’t understand or wish to research further. That would lead them to opening a new tab and leaving the original page.
Publishers want readers to stay on their page for as long as possible. Both to build a relationship with the content and author and to ensure more ad revenue. Apture provided the opportunity for this and also boosted users’ web searches as a whole.
It’s no surprise then that Google was eager to finalize the acquisition. It not only gave them access to the technology but to the experts engaged on the Apture team. All ten of them joined the Chrome team.
Apture, as a separate tool, was discontinued a month after the purchase. Its technology is still widely used in Google’s search service.