When home goods retailer Williams-Sonoma announced last week that it was dropping $112 million in cash to buy Outward, a 3D imaging and augmented reality (AR) firm, to enhance its own mobile offerings, it raised at least one eyebrow.

Longtime retail watcher Sucharita Mulpuru, currently a retail analyst for Forrester Research, went to Twitter to declare that the acquisition was "a pretty silly use of their cash." Her reasoning was that it's a lot of money, it's a "huge chunk of their cash" and "AR isn't going to beat Houzz, Wayfair, Ikea or anyone else," adding that "I've never seen a retailer recast their destiny (or even make more money really) acquiring a tech firm."

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