Google Buys Search Expert Apture

Thought Google had all the search technology it could handle? 

Think again. The Web giant announced the acquisition of in-page search expert Apture late Thursday. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed, but it is widely believed to be small by Google’s standards.

Effective immediately, Apture's staff is expected to join Google’s Chrome team, where, according to the start-up, they will focus on the Web browser’s user experience.

“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’s team stated Thursday. “The modern Web is an amazing platform, so stay tuned for even more enhancements to your Chrome browsing experience.”

Since 2007, Apture has sought to add “new dimensions to the Web … by transforming flat Web pages into interactive multimedia experiences.” The goal, according to the company, has been to help Web users “see, hear and truly experience the ideas on the page.”

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Publishing clients have included The Washington Post, The Economist and Scribd.

To date, Apture claims to have “enhanced” more than 1 billion pages with its products. For example, the company’s “Highlights” plug-in for publishers helps site visitors to highlight text and find related information, videos and maps. Along the way, it has raised over $4 million, most of which came from Clearstone Venture Partners.

Meanwhile, Google’s browser strategy continues to gain traction. According to a recent forecast from StatCounter, Chrome will pass Firefox to take the No. 2 spot -- behind Microsoft's Internet Explorer -- no later than December.

Chrome's global average user share for September was 23.6%, while Firefox's stood at 26.8%, reports the Irish Web statistics firm. IE, still with a comfortable lead, was at 41.7%. 

Even more impressive, Chrome has gained eight percentage points since January 2011, representing a 50% increase, according to StatCounter. During that same time frame, Firefox dropped almost four percentage points -- a decline of about 13% -- while IE fell four points -- a 9% decline.

Painting a slightly different picture, Net Applications recently reported that Firefox had a 22.6% share of desktop browser usage in August, compared to Chrome's 15.5%.

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