announced early this morning that it would acquire Global IP Solutions Holding. The company provides the VOIP engine behind Yahoo, AOL, WebEx and Lotus conferencing and had said last month that it would be the first to bring video chat to Android phones.Google
Google has offered $68.2 million for the company, which it has said it will use for real-time video and audio communications.
"The Web is evolving quickly as a development platform, and real-time video and audio communication over the Internet are becoming important new tools for users," said Rian Liebenberg, an engineering director at Google, in a statement.
The question now is, what does Google plan to do with this acquisition? The company can keep hold of it and use it to power real-time video communication on Android. It could also create a direct competitor with Skype by adding video capabilities to Google Voice (such as are already possible with GChat, but with mobile capabilities). At the same time, Google could offer the technology to developers via API in an attempt to become a defacto place to look when deciding to add real-time communications to Web applications.
Larry Dignan at ZDNet also brings up an interesting point - what will become of GIPS' multitude of other clients, all of which happen to be Google competitors? According to the joint statement, GIPS CEO Emerick Woods said that "we are confident that our existing customers will continue to be fully supported while we continue to enhance and extend our products and technology at Google."
The purchase is part of a general push at Google in moving to an increasingly real-time web. Whether it's adding Twitter and Facebook updates to its search results or making Google Reader and the Google index itself real-time with PuSH, Google has consistently moved away from the old way of doing things, wherein updates occur on a timed schedule.
Yesterday, Marshall Kirkpatrick broke the story on a new version of Google's Feed API, which will push updates directly to a user's browser. He argued in that article that it was a sign of the times: "No more refreshing pages to see when new content is available - the real-time web comes to you live, nearly instantly as soon as it's published."
An API from Google incorporating this real-time video communication, pushing content in the same way as it will with its Feed API, would further enable this possibility. With Google's developing capabilities with speech recognition and translation, an embeddable and linked real-time video communication protocol could be revolutionary.