Google is reportedly on the verge of acquiring satellite startup Skybox Imaging, a company best known for capturing high resolution landscape pictures. Sources claim the deal is valued at roughly $1 billion, and is already in the advanced stages of negotiations. Google will seemingly use Skybox's technology to bolster the company's own Maps service, which is one of the most widely used mapping services available.
TechCrunch says that although Google has its own source for satellite images, Skybox would provide more up-to-date data, thus providing a better experience for consumers. Google's current imagery is for the most part current, though TechCrunch notes that some of it is years out of date; Google obviously wants to rectify that as swiftly as possible. Instead of Google putting in the effort, it can simply use its bottomless war chest of money to acquire a company that has already done the hard part.
In addition to bolstering its Maps service, the acquisition is reputedly meant to benefit Google's "Earth Enterprise" business, which provides mapping data for larger organizations. As part of Google's enterprise push, the company wants to ensure it provides the best possible experience, which is why a company such as Skybox is so coveted.
TechCrunch also notes that although the Google-Skybox acquisition looks like a done deal, there are other competitors out there that might possibly pique Google's interest. However, Skybox is reportedly the leading candidate because, as TechCrunch says, it needs to raise money in order to continue operating; that would make it easy for Google to come swooping in. Skybox currently relies on a single satellite for imagery, and it would reportedly costs millions to launch another satellite—that doesn't even factor in operating costs.
Neither Google nor Skybox has commented on the report. But if a deal does go through, your satellite view on Google Maps will not only be more up-to-date, but it'll possibly be at a much higher resolution, too.