Google goes on acquisition spree this year

It has already bought 23 new companies in 2010; Microsoft has bought none

Google pulled out its wallet and went on an acquisition spree this year.

With months still to go in 2010, Google already has already bought 23 companies, according to research firm CB Insights. Calling Google's run a "torrid acquisition pace," CB Insights noted that this year's total is equivalent to all of its buying activity between 2007 and 2009.

"Given all the chatter about Android and the general emergence of mobile, the data surprisingly shows that Google's acquisition activity remains heavily focused on Internet software and services with 20 of 23 acquisitions being Internet companies and only two being mobile firms," the research firm noted in a blog post.

And highlighting how much Google has been shopping this year, CB Insights noted that rival Microsoft so far this year hasn't announced any acquisitions.

So what is Google buying? Three of the companies Google acquired this year were search-oriented, and three were focused on social media. One, according to CB Insights, focused on gaming, while one was focused on e-mail.

"Over the past several years, it's become commonplace for tech firms to buy their way into new innovations or markets rather than build them on their own," said Dan Olds, an analyst with The Gabriel Consulting Group. "Google's buying spree shows that the company is aggressively looking for both new tech and markets."

All the spending on outside companies might fly in the face of Google's reputation for encouraging innovation among its employees. But Olds said this only shows how serious Google is about pushing into new markets.

"Google does have a lot of internal innovation. In fact, they explicitly give engineers time to work on their own projects," he said. "The fact that they are also purchasing other companies by the truckload serves to underscore their push for new business."

Sharon Gaudin covers the Internet and Web 2.0, emerging technologies, and desktop and laptop chips for Computerworld. Follow Sharon on Twitter at @sgaudin or subscribe to Sharon's RSS feed . Her e-mail address is sgaudin@computerworld.com.

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