Google, has it’s core competency in the form of search related advertising, but that is not all that the company does, or aims to do. In the past, the company has launched, or is in the process of launching many new technologies with the aim of making lives better and perhaps their pockets deeper too. Even so, Google has expanded their reach from simply being the ‘search engine’. It entered into the OS business developing the ChromeOS for computers while also fueling development of the Android platform for smartphones and tablets. It also entered hardware development with it’s Chromebook series of laptops and Nexus smartphone series. However, recently the company also began to venture upwards, to touch the sky.
1. Skybox Imaging builds Satellite, and deploys data centres, providing commercial high-resolution satellite imagery, high-definition video and analytics services. The five year old start-up, was founded by by Dan Berkenstock, Julian Mann, John Fenwick, and Ching-Yu Hu Skybox was named no. 1 on Inc. magazine’s 25 Most Audacious Companies in 2014.
2. It is headed by Tom Ingersoll(CEO), aerospace veteran and entrepreneur with more than 25 years of experience in the space and communications industry. He is responsible for growing Skybox Imaging from its current development phase to full commercial operations and to the deployment of the world’s largest commercial imaging constellation.
3.The resolution of the company’s images and videos is high enough to observe objects that impact the global economy like terrain, cars and shipping containers. Skybox says its satellites can capture video clips lasting up to 90 seconds at 30 frames per second.
One such video of the Burj Khalifa as captured on April 9, was put up by SkyBox Imaging on YouTube, which can be found here.
4. Last year, Skybox launched it’s very first satellite – SkySat-1, launched on the Dnepr rocket from Yasny, Russia. The company plans to launch two satellites in 2014,eventually launching a fleet of 24 satellites.
5. Google’s main aim to acquire Skybox lies in the fact that it will help in delivering high quality resolution images for Google Maps. Google may also see this potential acquisition as a way to bring Internet to the two-thirds of the population who don’t have it. It seems that Google sees drones, balloons, and satellites as a means of beaming Internet connections around the world, and therefore expanding the reach of its service.
Internet connectivity is not really a far cry from high resolution imaging. An Wall Street Journal report quoted Tim Farrar, president of satellite research firm TMF Associates, “People want connectivity everywhere and images from everywhere in the world and you just can’t do that as easily from the ground,” he said. “Satellites will help Google reach remote mountains and dense jungles more easily, filling in the places where you can’t justify building terrestrial networks”.
6. In response to the acquisition, Skybox released a statement on their website, saying that they were “thrilled” about the deal and are “looking forward to working with the Google family and the world at-large to write the next chapter, and to do this, they are willing to tackle problems head on — whether it’s building cars that drive themselves or designing our own satellites from scratch.
Having an in-house satellite division will allow the Google, faster and current access to the what and where of the things which will in turn help the company keep its Maps and Earth services up-to-date with the latest imagery. The employees of Skybox Imaging are initially to work with the Google Maps division, and then move on to other roles within the company.
7. The acquisition also could give the search-industry leader, a proverbial leg-up in the Cloud Services industry, currently led by internet giant Amazon. Inc. which has many customers, including Instagram, Reddit and Foursquare and also gave its services to the 2012 Presidential Campaign of incumbent Barack Obama. The cloud industry is one to vie for, with a large chunk of companies with traditional portfolios now moving their information sharing and analytical systems over to the brave new world of cloud computing. And naturally Google wants to ‘overcloud’ them all.
This acquisition is perhaps one of the first in a long list of such deals, and only time will tell, what the future holds for this Mountain View firm.