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?

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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