What does Google’s acquisiton trends suggest of future strategy
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The acquisition of ITA by Google has again drawn into focus not only the vast resource available to Google but also where Google is likely to move over the coming months and years. Since January 2009, Google have acquired 20 companies ranging from high profile acquisitions such as ITA and Admob to smaller ones such as Gizmo5 and Simplify Media. Some of those buys standout as obvious opportunities however do the recent acquisitions present an insight into where Googles priorities over the last 18-24 months
The recent acquisition of the ITA Software would draw obvious assumptions that this may be the next sector targeted by Google following recent successful successful rollouts of Real Estate and Merchant Search. Rumours as far back as 2008 would suggest Expedia may have been on Google’s radar, so it is hardly suprising therefore that Google have taken the leap of acquiring ITA at this stage.
Further to that it would appear Google may be interested in other organisations within the sector, with Ruba – a visual travel guide and tour review site (although it would appear that the team behind this may be working with Googe rather than Google purchasing Ruba). I would stop short that a direct competitor for Expedia is directly in the offing but one would suggest that Google are gearing up for a serious assualt on the Travel sector, and one that may have significant impacts on many of the larger players – particularly if they enter the market with some form of CPA model.
Given the number of sectors which still present significant commercial opportunities, and it will be interesting to see what sectors if any Google decide to allocate further resource towards this. In particular I would suggest the automotive sector is ripe for further exploitation however the finance sector could still be a target for greater traction.
This has long since been a focus for Google, particularly since the $1,650,000,00 acquisition of video behemoth Youtube in October 2006. However since then Google have added the further acquisitions of Omnisio (July 2008), On2 (August 2009) and Episodic (April 2010) which would suggest the video piece is not one that is considered a finished work – and that there is likely to be further additions to the fold in te coming years.
Episodic and On2 in particular are interesting acquisitions, Episodic given that this enhanced the ability to broadcast live and on-demand video something we have seen Google become far more pro-active on over the last year or so with deals with the Indian Premier League symbolic of this growing trend.
THe importance of mobile as a potential revenue channel hit the headlines earlier this year with their purchase of Admob, a provider of mobile display marketing services. However the development of Android, and the acqisition of other services to support its rapidly expanding mobile empire are symbolic of just how important mobile is to Google – that further to the fact they spent $750,000,000 on Admob alone.
This is possibly testament to an increasingly mobile market, with a recent IAB study suggesting as much as 49% of respondants thought mobile search would be bigger than PC search by 2015. The increasing priority of mobile services within the Google armoury would thus leave them nicely covered should this come to fruition. Further to this other services purchased since 2008 within the Telecoms (VOIP) sector would also suggest more traditional communications means are also on the hitlist.
This is where many would suggest Google has placed significant resource over the last couple of years – particularly if you look at the recent development output into the mainstream SERPs. With integration of Real-time search and social circle introduced during the last six months one would suggest this may not be the last of the social media colloborations to immerse itself with our search experiences.
Further to that, the launch of Wave and then Buzz would further suggest Google are seriously looking to crack the social media nut, although I would suggest they still have a VERY long way to go if this is to happen. However they are getting the ducks in order if recent acquisitions are anything to go by – Appjet (Collaborative Real Time Editor – December 2009), Aardvark (Social search tool), Zingku and Jaiku – and this may still present a significant source of both revenue and opportunity moving forward
A constantly changing landscape
One thing is for sure, Google is going to evolve. Looking at previous acquisition patterns I would suggest mobile is a definite focus, however I can’t help but think Google is constantly looking at new revenue streams at one of their best opportunities may still come from greater vertical exploitation. THe automotive sector would probably require further resource or subsequent acquisition – as none of the current acquisitions would appear to fit the bill – however this is Google we are looking at.
I would thus suggest the travel piece is one that is in significant transit. I am extremely looking forward to see what Google make of the ITA acquisition and with the Ruba resource they have pulled in. This has the opportunity to be massive, and a real game changer within the online marketplace and travel in particular