Google’s Satellite Startup Acquisition Reaches for the Stars

Source: Getty Images

Google Inc. (NASDAQ:GOOG)(NASDAQ:GOOGL) is taking to the skies. The tech giant just acquired Skybox Imaging, a startup specializing in satellites that take high-quality images while in orbit. While the company currently has one satellite in orbit, more are planned, giving Google quite the view for its maps applications.

The company already gets satellite data from various companies that have satellites in orbit. This is how Google Maps and Google Earth have their extensive photo stores of pretty much everywhere in the world, in addition to flights the company uses to gather the data. Buying a company that makes satellites allows Google to start to cut out the middleman by owning a satellite of its own. The company still needs the approval of American regulators to proceed with the deal to complete the purchase.

Google has made another high-flying purchase recently: Titan Aerospace, which specializes in drones designed to carry Internet connectivity, although those devices can collect images, too. Skybox was purchased for improving applications like Google Maps and Google Earth, both of which depend on visual data. Numerous media outlets have reported that Google was interested in both companies previously. Where better to get data than from a satellite orbiting the planet? Especially when that satellite is capable of taking high-definition video.

With all that video from above, Google could receive an impressive amount of data about the Earth and its inhabitants. It could measure the crowds at a presidential inauguration, take photos of remote, uninhabited lands or show ships at sea. All of that data and more could become Google’s with the satellites it will have future access to now. Google is a data company, and for the immediate future, it has some practical applications in mind for Skybox.

“Skybox’s satellites will help keep Google Maps accurate with up-to-date imagery. Over time, we also hope that Skybox’s team and technology will be able to help improve Internet access and disaster relief — areas Google has long been interested in,” Google said in a statement announcing the acquisition deal.

Titan Aerospace will likely also play a role in improving Internet access. The company’s drones could be used to spread the Internet, a vision of Internet access also speculated by Facebook’s (NASDAQ:FB) Mark Zuckerberg. Facebook considered purchasing Titan at one point but decided against it, reports Bloomberg Bussinessweek. Google then acquired the company in April.

Google’s recent purchases prove that the company is literally taking to the skies in its growth. With all that expansion, it shows that although the company is already a tech giant, it still continues to reach for the stars.

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