Never content to be just the go-to search engine, Google has been barking up some interesting trees recently. Now, according to some sources, Google has gobbled up ICOA for $US400 million, and the thousands of Wi-Fi hotspots that come with it. Google says it's not true.
Hotspot provider IOCA is no small fry; it owns Wi-Fi networks across 40 states and is partnered with names like iPass, Boingo Wireless and BroadSky Networks. IOCA specialises in high-traffic areas like airports and restaurants, so an acquisition like this would give Google a pretty wide network of Wi-Fi hotspots without any of the trouble of building one.
AllThingsD is saying Google sources are denying claims of an acquisition. Our sources have confirmed that Google has not acquired ICOA for any amount of money. At least not yet. ICOA has also gone on record calling claims of acquisition false. CEO George Strouthopoulos told the Wall Street Journal that ICOA "never had any discussions with any potential acquirers" and is going to report the false release to the proper authorities.
So why drop a cool $US400 million on Wi-Fi hot spots? There could be any number of secret Googly reasons, but probably for data. Google's new augmented reality game is a great way to collect footpath data from mobile gamers, and having access to mobile hotspots will give Google access to the kind of data it needs to help develop and sell mobile ads.