Google pays $68.2 million in cash for the voice and video over IP technology maker.
As part of their expansion into new technology fields, Google has recently been gobbling up companies at a voracious clip.
One area of strong acquisitions is in video and VoIP fields. Google picked up On2 last year and has been building an open source video codec called VP8 around On2’s technology. The company also purchased Grand Central to become its Google Voice routing service and Gizmo5 to serve as its ‘Skype-killing’ VoIP provider.
Last night, Google (GOOG) purchased Global IP Solutions, a Swedish company voice and video over IP technology company with headquarters in San Francisco and offices in Stockholm, Boston and Hong Kong. Besides Google, GIPS customers include Nortel, Oracle (ORCL), Samsung, WebEx, Yahoo! (YHOO), AOL (AOL) and other players in the Video/VoIP market. Google announced that they’d support current GIPS customers throughout the length of their contracts.
One customer not mentioned is Skype, who used GIPS technology to build their original product. Skype dropped (then named) Global IP Sound in 2006 and moved over to a different technology integrated from SPIRIT DSP. Skype cut ties with GIPS in 2007.
Put all of Google’s acquisitions together and it seems pretty obvious that Google is setting up a serious video conferencing product, but one that is optimized for mobile as well.
Current Google Chat desktop customers can video conference through an Adobe Flash-based web plugin to their GoogleTalk friends. While the service is pretty reliable and works over slower connections — and hey, it’s platform agnostic! — Google can make the experience much better, especially for mobile.
Native video is much quicker to decode on mobile devices than Flash. Also, it can be compressed much more efficiently than Flash-based video. Google’s video conferencing, when combined with a VoIP service that connects to traditional landlines and mobile telcos, represents a very important new category without significant scaled competition outside of eBay’s (EBAY) Skype.
Google has also hinted that this isn’t strictly a consumer technology. They plan on moving Google Voice products into the enterprise with their popular Google Apps product.
How far off is this junction? The mobile hardware is already rolling off of assembly lines. The newest Android superphone, the HTC EVO, has a forward facing camera for video conferencing, though Sprint (S) showed its video chatting capability with software from Qik earlier this month.
I expect that more of these types of devices to get a Google ‘Skype-killing’ functionality over the next year. Then, mobile video conferencing using Google’s solution is only a software upgrade away.