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Google Confirms Slide Acquisition

Google on Friday confirmed that it has acquired Slide, an online entertainment company focused on virtual communities.

The acquisition may help Google boost its social networking aspirations and fuels speculation that it is developing a social networking platform centered on games.

In a blog post, Google said that with the Slide acquisition, it is investing in more ways to add social networking features to Google services. Gmail, Docs, Blogger, Picasa and YouTube already have "strong social elements," David Glazer, an engineering director at Google, wrote in the blog post.

Slide develops virtual community applications used on social networking sites like Facebook and MySpace. On its website, Slide says its goal is to build communities that allow virtual goods to be created and distributed.

Google did not reveal the price of the acquisition. Earlier this week, TechCrunch, which first reported the deal, said it was worth US$182 million while The New York Times later put the value at $228 million.

A variety of recent rumors have suggested that Google is pursuing social networking opportunities around gaming. Reports have suggested that Google invested in Zynga, the company that built Farmville, the popular Facebook game. Other reports say that Google has been talking to gaming companies to help launch a social networking platform around games.

Some past attempts by Google to break into social networking have floundered. Google Buzz, which lets Gmail users share status updates, photos and videos, met with an uproar when it launched. That's because users quickly discovered that their lists of followers, automatically generated based on people they e-mail, were publicly shared with others. Google changed its privacy policies in response.

Google's Orkut has been popular in some regions, notably Brazil, but hasn't been broadly successful at the level of MySpace and Facebook.

Nancy Gohring covers mobile phones and cloud computing for The IDG News Service. Follow Nancy on Twitter at @idgnancy. Nancy's e-mail address is Nancy_Gohring@idg.com

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