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Google finally confirms acquisition of Agawi, a specialist in streaming native mobile apps

According to The Information, Google last year secretly acquired a startup called Agawi, which had developed technology to use and stream mobile apps over the web without downloading them first, used in applications like in-app adds to preview and promote gaming apps.

According to The Information, Google last year secretly acquired a startup called Agawi, which had developed technology to use and stream mobile apps over the web without downloading them first, used in applications like in-app adds to preview and promote gaming apps.

Now, the Search Engine giant has finally confirmed the deal directly to TechCrunch in a terse note. “The Agawi team has joined Google. We aren’t sharing other details,” a spokesperson told TechCrunch. 

Even before the confirmation, there were several clues that pointed to this. Firstly, Agawi itself is no longer a live business: its web site is dead and its various Twitter accounts have not been updated since 2013.

Then there are three former Agawi employees now listed as working at Google on LinkedIn, all software engineers, including co-founder Rohan Relan. Two other co-founders, Peter Relan (who had been the executive chairman) and Rajat Gupta (the CEO) do not include Google in their LinkedIn resumes.

The Information describes Google’s move to buy Agawi and integrate its technology as part of the search giant’s larger efforts to get people back to using the web, and specifically away from downloading apps in order to enjoy content. But according to the TechCrunch report, a lot of the numbers about how Google has developed its own apps platform, Android Play, do not seem to support this. For instance, the company has paid out $7 billion to developers and has more than 1 million apps in its store.

Since Google makes the majority of its revenues from web searches and the ads that run against them, it is hardly surprising that Google would want to swing more attention to the apps and how they might be consumed over the web. 

Google has been working on ways of building out its apps business, including search in native apps: it’s enhanced its own deep-linked apps service, with some 50 billion links within apps now indexed to be searchable online, and with 100 apps integrated into Google Now.

According to the report, one way Google could use Agawi’s technology could be enhance how app search in Google works. Its streaming technology could be used to let people search for and then preview apps before downloading them.

Agawi, which started out in Peter Relan’s YouWeb incubator, has been around in one shape or another since 2010 (its first name was iSwifter). In theory its technology could be used for all kinds of content, although it focused its efforts initially on gaming and then developing ad units where you could play the games from within the ads, reports TechCrunch.

Google, whose Android OS powers the majority of smartphones globally, is also a leader in mobile advertising. And this could be a sign of how Google itself may be looking to innovate again in its mobile advertising approach.

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