Let's first take a look at the sizzling world of mobile AR browsers. These browsers are the closest we've ever gotten to augmented vision ("terminator vision"). In the last year we've seen a lot of development in that area, led by Mobilizy's Wikitude (Austria), SPRXMobile's Layar (The Netherlands), and Tonchidot's Sekai Camera (Japan). The only American companies I've heard of involved in that area are the giants, IBM, Microsoft and Google, though IBM did it in cooperation with Mobilizy, and the last two don't have a real product out there.
However, as Brian Selzer correctly states, the "U.S. has typically trailed Europe/Japan/Korea with mobile innovation in general". So, let us examine the "immobile" augmented reality world. It seems that there, the European superiority is even more obvious with companies like Total Immersion (France), Metaio (Germany) and YDreams (Portugal) are very prominent (and lest us forget the Australian Boffswana).
As a matter of fact, if one examines the signees on the recent open-letter to Apple to open up the iPhone's camera API, there are only two and a half American companies there (Neogence, Ogmento, and ARToolWorks). If you go through the list of accepted papers to ISMAR08, you'll find out that there are 12 papers authored by European researchers, and only 6 by American researchers (5 papers came from the far-east). Though the conference was held in Britain, and it would be interesting to examine the statistics of ISMAR09, this "research gap" might help to partly explain the "industrial gap".
The Good Points
So, where does it leave the USA? American companies are on top when it comes to utilizing the existing technology in marketing and advertisement, as we have all seen in the last couple of months. Moreover, the US is still leading when it comes to the number of patents issued that deal with AR. US companies, such as SnapTell and GetFugu, are also leading when it comes to augmented shopping. And we shouldn't forget about the American GeoVector, which once held a trademark on the term "Augmented Reality", and was one of the first companies in this area.
Yet, I'm pretty sure the US companies can contribute much more to the world of augmented reality (especially when we see the US contribution to the web). Do you think the same?