TechCrunch reports that Google has acquired ImageAmerica, which makes high-resolution aerial cameras that have provided Google with images for Google Maps and Google Earth, but neither the author of the post, nor the commentors seem to know what to make of it.
I don’t know the aerial imaging market at all, but I think I can make a good guess. There are atleast two complimentary reasons why Google would buy a company like this.
First, Google want’s to deny competitors access to a key technology or service. If this company is the clear leader in it’s market, then they have just denied Microsoft access to a potentially important resource for their own mapping efforts.
Second, Google want’s to make sure they continue to have access to a key technology based service. If Microsoft bought the company instead, they could have cut off Google’s ability to acquire the highest resolution aerial photography, which would hurt Google’s mapping efforts.
Make no mistake, mapping is very important to Google, because mapping is very important to local services, and locality is a very important piece of context in context specific advertising.