Google might call many of its new projects “moonshots,” but the company is dead serious about moving beyond the world of search engines, advertising, email, and mobile operating systems. In the past few years, Google has introduced a variety of new products, including driverless cars and Google Glass. The company has also announced an initiative to bring Internet connectivity to parts of the world where there currently is none via balloons, drones, and small Internet-delivering satellites. Google has just invested a huge amount of money on that endeavor, by buying satellite imaging company Skybox.
Skybox’s claim to fame is its ability to get extremely detailed high-definition images of the Earth’s surface. The company also has software that can look at all that satellite imagery, evaluate it quickly, and spit it out as a variety of different kinds of data. Obviously, this will boost and improve Google Maps, but the acquisition of Skybox will also give Google the ability to use Skybox’s satellites as Internet relays for its Internet-delivering satellites once they’re launched.
And Google could benefit even more from this acquisition. Skybox might allow the company to create the ultimate cloud of data about Earth, including a wealth of archives of weather and images from its satellites, as well as public satellites. Google could make that data available to other companies (for a price) and allow them to run their own software and use the information as they see fit.
This $500 million acquisition is not a done deal yet: Google must answer to various regulatory committees before the deal is officially approved, but our guess is that since Google felt comfortable making the announcement, it's probably going to happen.
Via Washington Post