Technology and the internet are perhaps the most exciting areas today. Literally more than half of the population uses at least some type of technology, no matter if it’s a smartwatch or a supercomputer, and is connected to the internet. No wonder that some of the biggest companies today are active in this area, and have huge piles of cash to spend.
And it’s also not a surprise that they spend a good part of their pile of cash on other companies. Most of the times, they engulf startups coming up with an attractive idea that they want to incorporate in their own product or service, without having to spend years and countless work hours on creating their own version. Sometimes, in turn, these acquisitions are about more than just adding a new feature to an already existing product or service.
Facebook and Giphy
A picture is worth a thousand words, they say – and a small animated picture may be even more expressive. Social media users constantly use GIFs to comment on their peers’ updates, and most of these GIFs come from a service called GIPHY. A service that, as of this May, is part of the vast Facebook empire.
Facebook bought Giphy not for its advertising potential (the previous owners have barely started experimenting with the monetization of the service) but for all the information it can provide the blue giant with. You see, around half of GIPHY’s 65-million user base already comes from Facebook but the other half comes from services ranging from TikTok to iMessage.
According to analysts, what Facebook actually wanted from the GIF-sharing service was the insight into emerging trends and viral content – and it can get it by taking a look at what GIFs people select when commenting on different pieces of content.
Apple and NextVR
Apple has taken a few steps toward diversifying its product portfolio in the last few years, extending into the content creation, automotive, and health industry. The former seems to have remained a priority for the company, at least judging by one of their latest acquisitions: California-based virtual reality company NextVR.
NextVR is a virtual reality event platform that delivers live sports and music in virtual reality. It has patented technology to deliver VR experiences to its users around the world and partnerships with traditional media entities like Fox Sports, Live Nation, and the NBA, among others.
According to some sources, Apple is working on several VR and AR solutions to be presented in the coming years, including an AR smart glass that will reportedly be released in 2022.
Alphabet and North
Alphabet’s – or better said Google’s – dedication to VR and AR is well-known, just think of the Google Glass, a project announced in 2012 that got us all excited but was finally scrapped over privacy concerns. The development of smart glasses hasn’t stopped, and neither did Google’s interest in the matter. This was the likely reason for Alphabet’s recent acquisition of Canadian AR startup North.
North, founded in 2012 as Thalmic Labs, developed not only an augmented reality glass called Focals but also Myo, a gesture-based input device reading the neuro-muscular impulses of the arm it’s put on. Now, North will continue as part of Google toward making our lives easier by putting a digital layer between us and the world. And, hopefully, toward the rebirth of Google Glass in a brand new form.