HWM (Singapore) - - Think - by JamesLu

In the last few months, Google has ac­quired star­tups pi­o­neer­ing ro­bot­ics, ar­ti­fi­cial in­tel­li­gence, and In­ter­net-con­nected de­vices for homes. Mean­while, Face­book has fur­thered its foray into smart­phone apps and emerg­ing tech­nolo­gies, in­clud­ing the con­tro­ver­sial pur­chase of Ocu­lus VR, the com­pany be­hind the Kick­starter-funded Ocu­lus Rift vir­tual re­al­ity tech­nol­ogy, for US$2 bil­lion in March.

Be­tween them, Google Co-founder, Larry Page, and Face­book CEO, Mark Zucker­berg, have em­barked on a shop­ping spree of eight com­pa­nies in the past six months. Google spent US$3.2 bil­lion ac­quir­ing Nest, a maker of smart ther­mostats and smoke de­tec­tors, which will put it at the fore­front of the con­nected home con­cept. It also paid US$400 mil­lion for Deep­Mind, a startup spe­cial­iz­ing in ar­ti­fi­cial in­tel­li­gence, and undis­closed amounts buy­ing out two ro­bot­ics com­pa­nies, Bos­ton Dy­nam­ics, and Schaft. Mean­while, Face­book’s US$19 bil­lion pur­chase of the pop­u­lar tex­ting app What­sApp was the sec­ond largest tech ac­qui­si­tion of all time, trail­ing only Hewlett-Packard’s ac­qui­si­tion of Com­paq for US$25 bil­lion (US$33.4 bil­lion when ad­justed for in­fla­tion) in 2002. The buy­out let Face­book pick up all 32 of What­sApp’s en­gi­neer­ing team, neatly se­cur­ing it­self valu­able talent, but more im­por­tantly di­rectly strength­ened Face­book’s po­si­tion on smart­phones and gave it in­roads to What­sApp’s 450 mil­lion users. Face­book’s pur­chase of Ocu­lus VR sud­denly puts it at the fore­front of en­ter­tain­ment tech­nol­ogy, and am­bi­tious plans like a bil­lion-per­son vir­tual re­al­ity MMO game have al­ready been hinted at.

Spend­ing bil­lions for un­proven con­cepts may seem risky but both Page and Zucker­berg know what it means to not stay on top of new trends and tech­nolo­gies. Nei­ther Google nor Face­book were the first suc­cess­ful com­pa­nies in their re­spec­tive fields, but both have seen the down­fall of early com­peti­tors like Netscape and MyS­pace, com­pa­nies that came be­fore them, but were un­able to in­no­vate and adapt to change.

That’s what led both com­pa­nies to Ti­tan Aero­space’s doorstep. Face­book wants to use drones as part of its In­ter­ ini­tia­tive, an al­liance with com­pa­nies in­clud­ing Eric­s­son, Sam­sung, and Nokia to bring wire­less In­ter­net to the bil­lions of people in de­vel­op­ing na­tions that don’t have it. Google has the same goal and will use Ti­tan’s drones to com­ple­ment its In­ter­net-de­liv­er­ing high-al­ti­tude bal­loons, part of an in­ter­nal ini­tia­tive called Project Loon.

In­dus­try an­a­lysts have de­scribed this mo­ment in time as the sec­ond In­ter­net boom. A boom driven by a new type of In­ter­net, the In­ter­net of Things: con­nected gad­gets and smart de­vices that are cre­at­ing an en­tirely new in­dus­try. It’s a time where ideas that once seemed plau­si­ble only in the dis­tant fu­ture are sud­denly be­com­ing pos­si­ble now. Larry Page and Mark Zucker­berg are de­ter­mined to see that Google and Face­book will be the ones pi­o­neer­ing that fu­ture.

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