Google expanding services through acquisitions

Looking to grow its business beyond mere social networking and add new services, Google has been on a buying spree of late, recently agreeing to acquire Cambridge, England-based Phonetic Arts, and Widevine Technologies, headquartered in Seattle, WA, which develops digital media software to facilitate the delivery of audio and video content to any device. No financial details were provided, but the nature of the two acquisitions signals that Google understands the value of copyrighted content and is determined to put the pieces in place to ensure a good experience for everyone involved.

Phonetic Arts gives Google access to technology that supports natural-sounding computerized speech from recorded voices using sophisticated speech synthesis algorithms. It could be used for speech translation as well as for searching clips via voice commands.

The acquisition of Widevine will allow Google to more securely stream videos to consumers supported by optimization software and a digital rights management (DRM) platform. In use by some 250 million Web-connected HDTVs and Internet sites worldwide, these DRM management tools offer control of encryption, key management, distribution and consumption of digital media. Preconfigured policies, digital rights and encryption are applied to inbound assets, automatically registered with Widevine and the content management system, and then uploaded to a destination partner network or CDN.

Streaming video is now the standard way now to find and watch on demand on sites like Google's YouTube, where people view more than 2 billion videos daily, as well as on movie subscription services like Netflix and PC tablets.

Brian Baker, CEO of Widevine, said that through a combination of content protection and video optimization technologies, “we’ve provided consumers with the highest quality Internet video experience while giving them freedom to watch on a variety of devices. With the recent growth of Internet video and network-connected devices, it is increasingly important for technology to provide consumers with the capability to watch what they want, when they want, where they want.”

Google said it would continue to support Widevine’s existing agreements with customers and provide support for existing and future clients such as AT&T, Best Buy and Netflix. There are also plans to integrate Widevine’s technology with Google’s, which should improve the availability of video content on Google TV sets.

Consumers can access content via an online app store download to Internet-connected devices. An entertainment portal allows companies to deliver the content directly to customers. It allows the company to control pricing and subscriber relationships. Baker said his company’s adaptive streaming technology optimizes the bandwidth required to support a consistent live stream without the need for buffering.

“By working with Google, we are even further committed to the consumer Internet video experience and to the needs of content owners,” Baker said, adding that Widevine will continue to supply the industry with leading video optimization and content protection solutions. “We are excited to have access to Google’s vast resources as we continue to improve our products, support our customers, and meet the future needs of consumers, content owners, service providers and device manufacturers everywhere."