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Google buying satellite startup Skybox for $500 million

Google will use Skybox's images not only to enhance its Maps product, but could also use its satellites to provide Internet access in less connected areas.
By Ananth Baliga   |   June 10, 2014 at 3:58 PM   |   Comments

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MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif., June 10 (UPI) -- Google said Tuesday that had purchased satellite startup Skybox for $500 million, enhancing its capabilities in detailed landscape pictures and video.

The deal has been rumored for weeks and was confirmed by the search giant Tuesday. Apart from providing pictures and videos, Skybox also provides analytics with satellites that it designed from scratch and claims are the world's smallest high-resolution imaging satellites.

"Skybox and Google share more than just a zip code. We both believe in making information (especially accurate geospatial information) accessible and useful," Skybox said in a blog post.

Skybox's images are so detailed that users can zoom down to less than a meter, making them very appealing to the agriculture, mining and insurance industries.

"We've agreed to acquire Skybox Imaging, and we look forward to welcoming them to Google," a Google spokesman said in an emailed statement. "Their satellites will help keep our maps accurate with up-to-date imagery. Over time, we also hope that Skybox's team and technology will be able to help improve Internet access and disaster relief -- areas Google has long been interested in."

Google has been competing with Facebook to develop and acquire technology that could increase Internet access in areas that are less connected. Google acquired drone maker Titan Aerospace last month, a company that designed high-altitude balloons to increase WiFi coverage in such areas. Facebook was also reportedly interested in acquiring the company.

Follow @antbaliga and @UPI on Twitter.
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