Google has bought San Francisco startup Apture, whose technology adds contextual links as you surf the web, then provides more information (like text from Wikipedia entries) in a pop-up window when you hover over those links.Founder Tristan Harris told us that the Chrome team within Google helped drive the deal, but did not comment on what exactly Google plans to do with the technology.
But it seems obvious that Google could use it to add more links to its services from within Chrome.
For instance, Apture’s technology could be used to highlight addresses on Web pages; users could then be taken to Google Maps and Local listings whenever they hover over those Web pages.
Today, Chrome mainly exists to drive searches (it’s easier to search from within the Chrome address bar than from other browsers) and to help Google influence Web standards and make sure its services aren’t blocked by incompatible Web browsers. But Larry Page has called Chrome a big part of Google’s long-term strategy, and the company has invested heavily in advertising for it this year.
Building more links to Google services from within Chrome would certainly be one way to justify that push.
A Google spokesperson confirmed that Apture’s technology and team would be used to boost Chrome, but offered no more details.
Harris said that Apture’s current deals with publishers will be phased out in coming months. Apture has about 10 employees today, and will be moving from San Francisco to Google headquarters in Mountain View.
Terms of the deal were not disclosed, but we’ve heard from other sources that Google tends to pay between half a million and a million per engineer for small acquisitions, which would put this buy in the sub-$10 million range.