Thursday, Google acquired Carnegie-Mellon University spinoff project PittPatt, which specialized in facial recognition software for businesses like GE. We’ll be a bit naïve here and take Google at their word when they claim they won’t implement full facial recognition software without “strong privacy protections” and intentionally excluded the feature from Google Goggles. It seems clear that Google will use the technology to enhance video quality and would otherwise be caught in crass doublespeak during a time to play it straight.
It is striking that Google seems utterly unfazed by two government commissions investigating it for its aggressive vertical integration into niche search and social media.
PittPatt marks the hundredth merger by Google, the sixteenth this year. For comparison, the slightly older and smaller Yahoo has acquired 64 companies and the more traditional technology company Microsoft purchased 144, both with only two acquisitions over the past seven months.
Google seems to be almost thumbing its nose at both European and American investigators. Not only are they explosively expanding and refining their social tools, they are reinforcing use of Google properties on Maps and de-emphasizing other sites’ role in local search. Google is even boasting its wide variety of overt technologies by giving the user everything they could love (with a layout ripped from a Mahalo demo video) even as they take away a line of customer interaction with the company.
Of course companies change, and to be mired in chasing the FTC algorithm would be much more likely than and as damaging as wrongdoing being found by the inquiry. Even more important is that these acquisitions allowed Google to provide a wide range of products, most of which were cobbled together from multiple targets’ technology. But is Larry Page’s aggressive business strategy going to engender the company to the FTC during the Google Antitrust case?
Check back tomorrow for an informative infographic from SI’s own Joe Luft on the situation!
Posted on Thursday, July 28th, 2011
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