Satellite startup Skybox was acquired by the search giant for $500 million, removing one competitor from the nascent field of scrappy Earth-imaging startups. Where satellite imagery giants like Digital Globe typically employ a few very expensive satellites—each essentially the lone representative from their generation of technology—small companies like Skybox have been using a constellation approach, where multiple smaller satellites provide high spatial and temporal resolution at lower cost.
I’m sure Skybox will get a boost from this acquisition, allowing their planned 24-satellite constellation to be in place by 2018, as planned. But it’s also sad to see a promising company get snapped up, its products likely unavailable to the public (outside of Google Maps). At least we still have Planet Labs. For now.