Google rarely does anything with a single objective in mind. There are almost always multiple goals or possibilities involved in most of its strategic moves and acquisitions. Such is also the case with its $68 million effort to acquire Global IP Solutions (GIPS). The company, headquartered in San Francisco but publicly traded in Norway, “provides best-in-class voice and video processing in IP communications.”
As several others have already remarked, GIPS has a customer list that includes “Nortel, Oracle, Samsung, WebEx, Yahoo. AOL and other key players in the VoIP market.” Some of the VoIP and videoconferencing functions at the core of WebEx, Yahoo Messenger and AOL AIM are provided by GIPS. In the near term the company says it will continue to service those accounts but everybody will probably be on the phone this morning seeking alternative vendors — just in case.
The last time Google bought a company that worked with competitors was Teracent, a company behind some of Yahoo’s online and mobile dynamic advertising. Indeed, with its huge mountain of cash, Google’s rivals do need to worry that the company will buy “the infrastructure” out from under them. This is immediately true of GIPS.
So how will Google use GIPS?
On the eve of Google’s now annual developer event this acquisition seems very timely. Google will likely build out its VoIP offering (Google Voice) to become a full-blown competitor to Skype and conventional telcos/carriers. However it already has the capability given its previous Gizmo5 acquisition. GIPS will add video and more muscle to the mix, giving Google some new enterprise tools for Apps and maybe Wave (or whatever Wave evolves into).
We’ll certainly see video chat/conferencing come to Android and mobile at some point in the future as well. There are potentially some interesting call (and maybe video) ad-related opportunities that Google can further develop here. It’s already doing Click-to-Call (Pay-per-Call lite) in mobile and experimenting with phone number insertion in AdWords online. And it has call-tracking capabilities through Google Voice.
I’m also eager to see the ultimate consumer and enterprise offerings that arise from the Gizmo5 and now GIPS acquisitions. While they don’t solve the ultimate problem of fast and affordable internet or mobile broadband access they potentially will provide new competition and choice to consumers and enterprises around voice and videoconferencing services.
As a personal side note, anything that gives the current crop of dismal online conferencing services (i.e., GoToMeeting, WebEx) a serious run for their money has got my vote.