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Google Buys SocialDeck

The deal promises to strengthen Google's social competency and to address issues of app discoverability.

Google has set a new record for acquisitions in a single month with the purchase of SocialDeck, a maker of social apps for mobile devices.

Surpassing the five-company mark it had reached in April, Google bought six companies in August: Java tool maker Instantiations, social apps company, social payment company Jambool, visual search company, social networking service Angstro, and SocialDeck.

SocialDeck confirmed the acquisition in a post on its Web site on Monday. The terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Several recent Google purchases have had a social focus, which is not merely coincidental. Google is widely reported to be broadening its social networking expertise to present a more vigorous challenge to Facebook in the form of a social networking project called Google Me.

Social networking is a problem for Google because communication across Facebook happens without the involvement of Google's search engine and without the opportunity for Google to sell search ads. Google thus needs to have its own social network to participate in potential social network ad sales.

Google characterized the SocialDeck deal specifically as way to augment its mobile products.

"We were very impressed with the team's talent as well as the technically advanced platform engaging mobile experiences they've built," said a company spokesperson in an e-mail. "We're pleased to welcome them to Google, and we think they'll be great contributors in partnership with the Google Waterloo team as we continue to innovate in the mobile space."

Google's office in Waterloo, Ontario, houses teams that work on mobile search and advertising products, as well as Chrome and Chrome OS.

SocialDeck distributes gaming apps for Apple's iPhone, RIM's BlackBerry, and Facebook, games based on its Spark social platform. Spark adds value to games by promoting viral game distribution, virtual goods monetization, and cross-platform play.

Spark also addresses a problem that has grown as the number of available apps has grown: finding relevant apps.

"As discovery becomes an ever growing problem in various mobile app stores, our focus on driving alternative, social distribution has become an increasingly valuable investment," wrote SocialDesk founder and COO Anish Acharya in a blog post in February. "A critical component of the success of our titles has been leveraging [potentially] viral distribution channels such as Facebook and Twitter."

For iOS developers, trying to stand out among the over 250,000 apps now in Apple's iTunes App Store presents an obvious challenge. Android developers face a similar problem in the Android Market, where there are over 100,000 applications.

With Spark and its forthcoming social network, Google is preparing for the possibility that social sharing may one day eclipse search as the preferred method for online marketing.

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