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Google + Sony + TV = 1997?

Remember like 10 years ago when the “cool” thing to do was WebTV? A computer on your television set, with a keyboard and a mouse that worked (sometimes) with no wires?! Okay, so it was never really that cool—maybe watching TV and computing simultaneously hadn’t been invented yet—and yet Google is partnering with Sony to bring the Internet back to the television.

Right now there are a few set-top boxes that offer access to limited Internet content. Google & Sony’s box, with the Android OS, would allow users to access the full Internet, possibly with apps for popular sites like Twitter and Picasa, according to the New York Times.

FTC Still Examining GoogleMob—Wants Feedback from Rivals

Now here’s a great way to gather totally, completely unbiased information about a potential merger: ask the companies’ competitors. Okay, so the FTC isn’t completely crazy—of course other companies in the market would have a pretty good idea what the industry looks like and what a big merger might do. But still, we can only hope the FTC will remember to take their opinions with a grain of competitive salt.

AdMob, the popular mobile advertising company, and Google, the wanna-be-popular mobile advertising company, announced the deal in November. Google gave AdMob $750M in stock in the deal. The next month, consumer groups began lobbying against the deal. Now the FTC wants both advertisers and rivals to make sworn statements about the pending merger.

Life’s No Picnik for Yahoo as Google Acquires Flickr Partner

Yahoo partnered with photo editing company Picnik way back in 2007. It was an important partnership for Yahoo’s Flickr, leading to senior executives to proclaim:

“Providing the ability to edit directly within Flickr is an important step in offering our 20 million members around the globe a complete photo experience.”

Then along came Google.

…we’ve just been acquired by Google! What does this mean for Picnik? It means we can think BIG. Google processes petabytes of data every day, and with their worldwide infrastructure and world-class team, it is truly the best home we could have found. Under the Google roof we’ll reach more people than ever before, impacting more lives and making more photos more awesome.

Google Pays $50M for an Anteater

Remember when I asked if social search engine Aardvark might suffer from "participation fatigue" as its members grow tired of answering the questions of others.

Yeah, you can forget about that, because Aardvark was just acquired by Google for a cool $50 million.

< I can hear CEO Max Ventilla now: "I’ve got your participation fatigue, right here, Andy!" ;-) >

Anyway, I thought Google was out of the "using humans to answer questions" business? I thought all of our search problems were going to be solved by robots and algorithms?

I have no insider knowledge on why Google made the buy, so I’ll just wildly speculate as normal.

Perhaps, it’s because Aardvark was gaining ground in the mobile search space. Something I speculated a couple of weeks back:

Yahoo to Keep BOSS under Microsoft

And I don’t mean job security for Carol Bartz. Yahoo’s BOSS (Build your Own Search Service) is a popular, free way for developers to access the Yahoo index and to implement Yahoo search for your site. With the pending Microsoft-Yahoo deal outsourcing the search business, there has been some concern over whether BOSS will be discontinued.

Never fear, says Yahoo—BOSS is sticking around. Like the main search results, the BOSS results are slated to use Bing’s index as well. But the bad news is that BOSS may not continue to be a free offering. Ashim Chimbra addressed developers’ concerns in the Yahoo Tech Group and alluded to possible pay structures in the future (emphasis added):

Consumer Groups Lobby FTC to Block GoogleMob

Early last month, Google announced it was acquiring AdMob for $750M. The deal is still in the works, of course—in part, at least, because the FTC is taking a first and, as of last week, second look at the deal. As the FTC continues to scrutinize the search giant buying the mobile ad giant, consumer groups are taking their opportunity to have their say—and it’s not in favor of the deal.

The biggest concerns of the Center for Digital Democracy and Consumer Watchdog include decreasing competition in the mobile ad market and consumer privacy. The groups say that together, Google and AdMob would control most of the mobile ad market. AdMob is already the leader in the market, thought there’s lots of competition in that area. However, with backing from the search engine, it’s possible that AdMob could come to dominate their arena just as Google pwns theirs.

Google to Acquire DocVerse

According to TechCrunch sources, Google is nearing the final stages of an agreement to acquire DocVerse, real-time Microsoft Office collaboration software company founded in 2007. Sources say the purchase price is $25M.

The acquisition seems to make sense as Google and Microsoft square off for battle. The DocVerse website bears the title tag “Make Word, PowerPoint and Excel Work Like Google Docs.” Although Google Docs can already import Word, PowerPoint and Excel files, and already offers the real-time (or pretty close) collaboration, they could certainly improve, especially in the file conversion area.