Mountain View based tech giant Google (GOOG) is in talks to acquire Skybox Imaging, a 2012 start-up that builds satellites and specializes in satellite imaging and video, for a sum of $1 billion. But if you think Google is thinking of adding Skybox to its acquisition list to aid its Google Maps offering, you will be wrong. Well, partially wrong. Google is up to something else, something big that will allow the company to expand its global reach.
What is Google Up To?
This move from the tech mammoth comes as the next step of a multi-level strategy. Last month the company had acquired a solar-powered drone maker Titan Aerospace that specializes in manufacturing unmanned aircrafts that can fly at an altitude of 65,000 feet made possible by the 50-meter long wingspan. These drones have the ability to fly continuously for years and absorb power from sunrays.
The primary rationale for Google behind the Titan acquisition was to get hands on the capabilities of the latter and then use that expertise in the development of Project Loon. Google has been working on Project Loon for some time now and through the project it wants to establish a global internet service network with speeds equal to a 3G connection, so that anyone anywhere across the globe can have access to internet.
Using Titan’s capabilities, Google was planning to manufacture atmospheric satellites that can revolve around the Earth for several years and this is where Skybox comes in. With expertise in data analytics, satellite imaging and video, Skybox can add substantially to the project’s success. In fact, it’s not just Skybox, Google is targeting several other similar tech start-ups also to gain access to a broader set of skills.
If and when the deal gets executed, Google can merge the capabilities of both Titan Aerospace and Skybox Imaging to manufacture a satellite that will be able to fly almost endlessly, provide vivid and descriptive video footage and images and help in transmitting wireless signals required for setting up the global internet network.
Google Maps and Google Earth Also To Benefit
Industry experts and analysts are quite optimistic about the developments at Google. They are of the opinion that the capabilities of Skybox will not be limited to Project Loon only. Knowing Google, it’s pretty obvious that the company will try and implement the acquired technology in everything that can possibly benefit from it, and Google Maps and Google Earth are the two most obvious ones.
However, Google’s driverless cars will probably not get any help from this acquisition. The satellite images and videos that can be taken using Skybox technology will not be able to deliver the kind of data the company needs for these robot cars. The successful commercialization of the cars will require detailed street view data and not over-head satellite images.
Google is very serious about its Project Loon initiative. The company has been acquiring start-ups that have the potential to make big difference in the project, and this trend is likely to continue. The space may see many more consolidation efforts from the tech giant until it is able to find the right combination of skills that can boost the development of the project. As of now, Skybox seems to be a perfect target for Google, and has the potential to improve Google’s multiple offerings.