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Google Keeps on Buying the World

David Silversmith
David Silversmith

Google might not be able to buy China, but they are aggressively buying companies like web video platform Episodic, image-editing tool Picnik, social search engine Aardvark and mobile e-mail utility reMail.

Google’s CEO Eric Schmidt has hinted that his company will continue to be an aggressive acquirer and the recent months back up this strategy.  Investors and technology forecasters are trying to read the tea leaves of these acquisitions to predict the next big Internet splash.  However, these latest acquisitions are very different and how Google is handling them is also different.

Looking at reMail, it appears that Google was interested in the staff not the product.  ReMail was designed to  download all your email to your iPhone and offers powerful full-text email search. The developers of reMail have accouned that they will focusing on other projects at Google. They have since removed reMail from the App Store. although existing users were able to keep using it because reMail is a client-only application.   Google has even decided that the best option was to open source the code, which is now available on Google Code as remail-iphone under the Apache 2.0 License.

Moving to the animal kingdom, Aardvark claimed to be a "new kind of social search: sometimes you want a person, not a web page, to answer your question."  The idea is that you ask any question and Aardvark will discover the perfect person in your network to answer in minutes. Here it appears that Google shares the vision and sees opportunities to grow and/or monetize the product.  As a first step Aardvark is now available through Google Labs. Aardvark will remain fully operational and completely free, providing quick, helpful answers to all of your questions. Perhaps Google is still stinging from the way that Google Answers lost out to Yahoo Answers.

The Google acquisition of Picnik appears to be very different. Google said in their blog that "We're not announcing any significant changes to Picnik today, though we'll be working hard on integration and new features."  Unlike these other companies, Picnik already has both a large customer base and a revenue stream.   Picnik is also integrated with a wide variety of websites like Picasa Web Albums, Facebook, Flickr, Yahoo! Mail and Photobucket. Note that integration with Yahoo!Mail - that is an interesting twist - will Yahoo continue to work with a Google owned Picnik?

Google's latest acquisition is the web video platform Episodic. With Episdic, Google gets a platform that handles all aspects of video distribution — from the uploading, to the hosting, to the monetization and analytics. The leaders at Episodic noted "We’re very excited to join the talented team at Google and to continue creating great experiences for viewers and powerful platforms for publishers, marketers, and advertisers." Given Google's challenges in monetizing YouTube, there are appear to be many synergies here.

Google was built upon innovation, but it appears that they are eager to keep the innovation going - even if that means innovation via acquisition.

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