How Google’s latest acquisition could kill the Apple rumor mill

CC-licensed via Wikipedia. Thanks Nadkachna.

CC-licensed via Wikipedia. Thanks Nadkachna.

Sooner rather than later, Google will be tracking your every move.

The Mountain View search colossus already knows whether you have the flu or are interested in dropping a few pounds, thanks to its mining of your search data and Gmail missives.

Thanks to Google’s recent bargain buy of tiny satellite company Skybox Imaging — a purchase that cost Google just $500 million, or 1/38 what Facebook shelled out for WhatsApp — by 2016, Google may be able to predict market-moving factors like consumer spending and oil prices.

That means Google might be able to foretell when you’ll be waiting in line for the latest iPhone.

Here’s why: Skybox’s satellites are lighter and cheaper than competitors’ — so much so that the company can afford to snap images twice a day. Compare that to other companies, whose satellite images are often several years old.

The speed and frequency aren’t to appease map nerds, though. Think of Skybox as a giant spy in the sky.

“We’re looking at Foxconn every week,” Skybox co-founder Dan Berkenstock told The Wall Street Journal. If you can track the trucks coming in and out of the plants, you’ll know when Apple is ready for the next big launch.

Analysts have been using similar data to predict consumer spending. If you can monitor the density of cars in Walmart parking lots, you know whether people are out spending or at home hunkering down. The implications for commodities like grain prices and oil are also far-reaching.

What do you think: Would the death of the Apple rumor mill be worth the Big Brother effect?

  • Craig F

    Just another reason to avoid using anything google. Worse than NSA/CIA/MI6/KGB……. combined

  • HowmaNoid

    In my day this was called industrial espionage and would land you in prison. Now we have decided that companies are people so I look forward to Google’s day in court.

  • Anthony

    Just because they know when Apple is launching something doesn’t mean they know what Apple is launching. FoxConn also makes iPads and iPods, rememeber Google? You still won’t have any usable information that anyone else wouldn’t have – the leaks coming from inside the FoxConn plant already sortof drop the baggie on when something new is coming out, but Apple is notorious for smoke and mirrors, and if they don’t comment on the trucks going in and out of FoxConn then guess what all that spying becomes? That’s right, more rumour-milling and more free advertisement for Apple.

  • San Diego Dave

    This obviously won’t kill the rumor mill…but, seroulsy, Google is big brother now. All they need is an army of drones and driverless patrol cars.

About the author

Nicole MartinelliNicole Martinelli heads up Cult of Mac Magazine, our weekly publication available on iTunes. You can find her on Twitter and Google+. If you're doing something new, cool and Apple-related, email her.

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