Never content to be just the go-to search engine, Google's been barking up some interesting trees recently. Now, Google has gobbled up ICOA for $400 million, and the thousands of Wi-Fi hotspots that come with it.
Hotspot provider ICOA is no small fry; it owns Wi-Fi networks across 40 states and is partnered with names like iPass, Boingo Wireless and BroadSky Networks. ICOA specializes in high-traffic areas like airports and restaurants, so this acquisition is going to give Google a pretty wide network of Wi-Fi hotspots without any of the trouble of building one.
So why drop a cool $400 mil on Wi-Fi hot-spots? There could be any number of secret Googly-reasons, but it's probably for data. Much like Google's new ARG is a great way to collect footpath data from mobile gamers, having access to mobile hotspots will give Google access to the kind of data it needs to help develop and sell mobile ads. And if it turns out that Google really is buddying up with Dish for a potential wireless service, it could have even more data coming its way. Google's certainly building up a little war chest of network here, and it's most definitely going to be using it to make some money off you, but it's not like you'll notice the difference. [PR Web via ZDNet]