Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) Nov. 10 confirmed it acquired in-page search specialist Apture for an undisclosed sum, a move to bolster the company's search experience in its Chrome Web browser.
Apture makes software called Highlights that publishers such as Hearst, the Reader's Digest and Financial Times embed in their Websites to let readers search within Web pages.
Readers highlight words in an article on a Web page supported by Apture to see a small, overlay browser window that provides links to contextually relevant text, videos, photos and more information about the highlighted topic.
Apture content is a vector for Google. While Apture sources for text include links to TechCrunch, Flickr, Twitter, and Wikipedia, they are delivered by Google's search engine. Moreover, the video options point users to Google's YouTube property and the pictures are gleaned from Google's Image Search product.
Apture also makes a Highlights browser extension so that users visiting Websites in Chrome Mozilla Firefox, or Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) Safari browsers.
Users can install the extensions, highlight words on any Website and see more info about the content. EWEEK installed the Chrome extension and found it worked quite well for highlighting sports terms on ESPN.com.
Google liked Apture enough that it had to have the technology to tuck into its Web browser, which has well over 200 million users and continued to gain share through October.
"We were impressed by the Apture team's approach to enhancing the Web browser experience, and we think their expertise will complement the Chrome team's efforts in this area," a Google spokesperson told eWEEK.
"After enhancing more than a billion pages with our products, we think now is the best time to expand our efforts with another team just down the road that shares our vision of making the web better... we've been acquired by Google and will be joining the Chrome team to continue driving innovation and creating a better user experience on the Web," Apture said in a statement on its homepage.
Google will likely make Apture's technology an optional feature Chrome users can check a box to turn on in subsequent versions of the Chrome browser.
Google's goal with the move hews to Apture's raison d'etre: boosting user engagement on Web pages to keep users searching longer, enabling Google to make more ad dollars.
TechCrunch has an interview with Apture Co-founder Tristan Harris, who said Apture's plug-ins would be shut down in a month or so, that's worth a read. Also, read ReadWriteWeb's interview and analysis.
The acquisition brings the number of purchases by Google in 2011 to nearly 60 companies, ranging from giant buys such as ITA Software for $676 million, to smaller fish such as Apture and social media concern Katango, which the company also purchased Nov. 10.
Google told the Securities and Exchange Commission it had shelled out over $1.4 billion for 57 companies through Oct. 20.