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6/25/2007
03:40 PM
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Rumored Google, Grand Central Deal Shows Increasing Rate Of Acquisitions

Google's purchase of online phone company Grand Central Communications would put it on track for tripling its 2006 acquisitions.

Google plans to acquire online phone service company Grand Central Communications, according to TechCrunch, a leading technology blog.

Google declined to confirm or deny the deal, citing a policy of not commenting on rumor or speculation.

Grand Central didn't respond to a request for comment.

Grand Central, based in Fremont, Calif., launched in beta last September, offering an online service that helps manage and personalize calls and messages from multiple sources. The company is privately owned and backed by venture capital firm Minor Ventures.

The deal, if verified, shows Google's annual acquisition rate increasing significantly this year. With the year only halfway over, Google has made, or is in the process of making, 12 acquisitions in 2007, 50% more than the number of acquisitions it made in 2006 (8) and 20% more than 2005 (10), the company's previous high-water mark.

If Google continues gobbling up companies at its current rate, it will end up buying 24 companies in 2007, three times as many as in 2006.

Since acquiring Reqwireless and Android in 2005, Google's purchases have involved companies focused on technology that isn't specifically oriented toward mobile phones. It's not clear, however, whether Google's supposed interest in Grand Central represents a renewed focus on mobile-oriented deals or whether Grand Central is merely a target of opportunity.

The Observer of London recently reported that Google has been working with Taiwanese phone firm HTC and European telecom company Orange to develop a Google mobile phone. And certain Google patent applications indicate that the search company has ongoing interest in mobile phones and audio data.

Google also is providing mapping software and services for Apple's iPhone.

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