Why does Google like Like.com?

The search giant is about to announce the acquisition of a company that matches images, even products.

Google will soon announce the acquisition of Like.com, the image-matching technology company formerly known as Riya. The Silicon Valley rumor mill says the deal will exceed $100 million.

Like.com is sitting on some killer technology. You can bring up a picture of an object, and tell it to find more like it. It can even identify specific people.

Google already has technology like this, which you can try right now by searching Google Images, then clicking on the "Find similar images" links below some of the result pictures.

So why would Google want to shell out a fortune to own Like.com? Five reasons:

1. Domination. Google and Like.com technology is similar, but Like.com's is probably a little better. By buying the company, Google will be able to boast of the best technology out there.

2. Patents. Like.com has some great patents, and Google will benefit both commercially and legally by owning them.

3. Engineering talent. All brilliant engineers don't work at Google, but that won't stop Google from trying.

4. Competitiveness. Or anti-competitiveness, depending on how you look at it. Like.com has been ripe for acquisition for a long time. Google wants to make sure the likes of Microsoft doesn't get their hands on it and fold it into Bing.

5. Advertising. Image recognition geniuses are ushering in a world where you can snap a picture with your cell phone camera -- shoes on somebody else's feet, products on TV, pictures in a magazine -- and bring up the web site where you can buy one. Such technology already exists for content, such as books. But Google's vision is to be able to do this with everything, everywhere, all the time.

It's really no mystery why Google wants to acquire the company. What's not to Like.com?

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