2012 has been another successful year for Google with Android retaining a dominant share of the smartphone pie, Google+ reaching over 400 million users with 100 million active accounts. They also launched a Google TV, a service that integrates Google’s Android OS into Smart TVs and brings popular on-demand streaming services like, Netflix, to the living room. It’s safe to say that Google Inc. has become a lot more than just a search engine.
With all their success, Google doesn’t shy away from innovating for the future, Google has a history of bringing small businesses and startups into the fold, many of which have gone on to help build some of its most notable features.
This year alone, Google Inc. spent over $500 million in various acquisitions. Today we take a look back at what Google added to their portfolio this year.
Here is the list of companies acquired by Google in 2012:
Viewdle is Ukrainian based facial technology recognition software that automatically tags photos of people. It took Google over a year of negotiation to close the deal, and it is expected to cost Google as much as $45 million dollars. Google has firmly backed facial recognition technology, they have used it on their Android OS, Picasa and Google Image search.
If this acquisition is anything to go by, Google isn’t backing off from pushing forward with facial recognition technology, it’s safe to say that we expect more innovative and accurate facial recognition applications from Google in the future.
Google has ambitious plans for its Google Wallet, Google’s service that enables payments, discounts and loyalty points — and the ability to make those transactions mobile using selected NFC handsets. TxVia is another step in that direction. TxVia is a mobile payment technology company that Google managed to bag up in April for an undisclosed amount.
TxVia has been around for 5 years and manages over 100 million accounts, bringing services that include enabling mass-market prepaid cards, general purpose reloadable cards and gift cards and more.
All major smartphones are shipping with NFC technology, and it doesn’t seem like it’s going to be too long before you see a mobile payment solution in a store near you.
3. Nik Software (Snapseed).
Instagram has been a popular photo editing app for iOS, after capturing the hearts of millions of iPhone users with its easy to use interface and funky filters, Instagram was picked by Facebook. Not to be outdone, Google acquired Nik Softawre, the developers of Snapseed, a photo editing software for the iOS (like Instagram) with an intuitive interface which earned it Apple’s coveted iPad App Of The Year award in 2011 for its inventive multitouch photo editing interface. It gained over 9 million users in just a year.
Google acquired the company in September for an undisclosed amount. The purchase and subsequent integration with Google+ would bring Google’s social network on par with Facebook’s offerings.
Frommer’s is a travel guidebook series which is among the bestselling travel guides in America. The business has been around for over 5 decades, and now Google has bought it for $25 million.
Google aims to sell travel-related ads and provide tools for people to book travel arrangements.
The acquisition ties in well with Google’s acquisition of Zagat Survey, a reviews and ratings service which listed millions of business and it has been incorporated with Google+ local-business listing.
Zagat and Frommer’s, Google hopes can become a trusted guide for travel and local-business information by using expert ratings and aggregating online comments from thousands of customers, it’s Google’s answer to Yelp.com.
Gmail is a popular email service from Google, needless to say that it is an integrated part of Android and performs fluidly, on its rival, the iOS it’s a different story. Gmail for the iOS has been a pain for the users. Apple’s default email app lacks a lot of features, and Google’s own app is disappointing. Along comes Sparrow, an email client, launched for the iOS which allows users to save up to 1000 messages for offline reading, a priority inbox and labeling, much like what Google offers on the desktop. It’s no surprise that the app became an instant hit, and a prime target for Google.
Google bought the France based company for $25 million dollars in July. Google hasn’t disclosed what it aims to do with the Sparrow app itself, instead they’ve taken the team behind Sparrow and made them a part of the Gmail development team. The move means that Google is trying to bring better cross-platform performance of its email service.
Quickoffice is a mobile productivity suite that brings a range of powerful productivity apps to smartphones, the suite has been downloaded over 500,000 times on Android’s Play Store.
In June, Google acquired the Quickoffice for an disclosed amount. Google is going to integrate the service with Google docs.
Meebo is a popular online cross-platform instant messaging service which saved users the hassle of downloading proprietary messengers and bringing instant messaging in a easy to use interface.
Google bought Meebo in June, for $100 million dollars. Google took the Meebo team and made them a part of Google+. Meebo’s online messaging services has been discontinued. The team is now employing their experience in online instant messaging to improve the chat functionality on Google’s social-network.
8. Wildfire Interactive.
Wildfire is a social marketing software developer that lets brands serve marketing and ad campaigns on Facebook, Google+, Twitter, YouTube and other social platforms. It has amassed 16,000 customers in 4 years of operations.
In August, Google bought Wildfire, for $450 million dollars, their largest disclosed deal of 2012. The acquisition will enable Google to provide services to companies who want to run contests, sweepstakes, branded games and more on the Google+ platform.
Wildfire is still going to provide their services to Google’s rivals, Facebook, it puts Google in a peculiar position of earning from from the success of their rivals.
BufferBox is a Canadian based start-up which provides a parcel pick-up service with a twist. Instead of shipping the things you buy online to your house, you can ship them to a nearest BufferBox, an automated locker system that stores your items and provides you a temporary PIN to collect your items from the BufferBox. Here’s a video form BufferBox which explains how their service works.
Google bought the start-up for nearly $17 million in November. Google seems really keen on bringing mobile commerce next year, Google is going to integrate the BufferBox service into its Android OS and Play Store.
So, it looks like Google has planted the seeds for the future, we’re going to see the fruits of these as early as 2013, and as always, we’ll bring the news as it happens through out 2013. Subscribe to Emerging Technology Magazine for the latest news in cutting edge technology.