Google has acquired payment solution platform Jambool, for $55m, reportedly accompanied by a $10-15m earnout bonus upon accomplishing certain performance targets. Jambool owns and operates the Social Gold platform, a payment solution for social games that enables purchases of virtual currencies and offers performance analytics to its partners. Further, Google recently purchased app developer Slide, for $182m.
Despite the lack of official announcement to confirm widespread suspicions, it's apparent that Google is gearing up to launch its own social network. Atop the two aforementioned acquisitions, Google acquired social gaming developer Pixie Labs earlier in the year, followed by a widely-purported investment in Zynga in recent months. Google already owns and operates a social network, Orkut, which has gained significant traction in Brazil and India, but it's likely that Google's next move in the social space will be a fresh launch that aims to gain a stronger global foothold, especially in the west. It also owns Google Checkout, making it likely that, alongside the Jambool acquisition, that Google's own gaming/apps platform could launch with a first-party virtual currency in tow, comparable to Facebook Credits.
With regards to gaming, Screen Digest suggests that Google would operate its own games portal as part of the app ecosystem of its new social network but also break it out as component of its suite of services. Google's experience with games and social technology is mixed. It's short-lived virtual world Lively failed to gain much attention, while its Open Social API - used to enable content creation for Orkut - remains somewhat diffuse as a platform, in a manner similar to general Flash-based gaming. It's going to need some basis of structure and filtering to fully grow and promote its gaming content, as has occurred on Facebook. And so, it's likely that while a 'Google Games' portal will remain a relatively open opportunity, it will also be subject to control and management from the search giant itself.
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