US: The murmurs of Google’s plans to spend more than $1 billion on acquiring satellite startup Skybox Imaging has gained traction in the last couple of weeks. Guesstimations run high with details still remaining in flux. Google has been moving fast on acquiring companies for this project. In April, the company outbid rival Facebook to acquire Titan Aerospace.
Techcrunch, which first reported that the search giant was keenly pursuing the acquisition talks with Skybox, reported that the decision is part of Google’s aim to significantly push its enterprise solutions. A report published on 23 May stated, “Google uses a mixture of sources for Google Earth, the real-world imaging component of Google Maps. Some of those images are more up to date than others, and some are years out of date. Having its own primary source of data, updated regularly, would provide a more reliable and accurate set of data that Google could potentially expand into more consumer-focused products and services.
Google has a business division called “Earth Enterprise” that provides mapping data for large organisations, institutions and businesses. Google Earth Enterprise allows you to store and process terabytes of imagery, terrain and vector data on your own server infrastructure, and publishes maps securely for your users to view using Google Earth desktop or mobile apps, or through your own application using the Google Maps API.” The report also quoted Scott Soenen, CTO as saying that the move ‘would give Google a very reliable, rich content source for imagery analytics and related applications.’
At the same time, industry has been abuzz about Google project that aims to provide internet to remote areas with 180 small, high-capacity satellites orbiting the earth at lower altitudes than traditional satellites, and then could expand.
Google’s satellite venture is led by Greg Wyler, founder of satellite-communications startup O3b Networks, who recently joined Google with O3b’s former chief technology officer, claim reports. Another report claims that Google has been hiring engineers from satellite company Space Systems/Loral to work on the project. The estimated cost of the project, as quoted by different reports, starts from about $1 billon to more than $3 billion.