Google roundup: game controllers, retail stores, banner ads, Apps

|By:, SA News Editor

Google (GOOG +0.4%) has bought some of the assets of Green Throttle Games, maker of a Bluetooth game controller for Android hardware, and has also hired part of the startup's team.

The purchase comes amid reports Google is getting set to launch a Nexus set-top capable of playing Android games. Amazon and Apple are also reportedly prepping set-tops that double as casual gaming consoles.

Crain's reports Google plans to open an 8K-sq. foot retail store in Manhattan. The reports comes after Google built a giant barge (recently kicked out of S.F. Bay) that many think is meant to act as a floating showroom.

Google has ended a search banner ad test launched last year. The test had raised eyebrows, given it represented the first time Google placed banners within search results, and that the ads were focused on branding rather than conversions.

Google has launched an add-on store for Docs and Sheets, and is also now offering a $15 referral bonus for Google Apps for Business sign-ups. Though its pricing and collaboration tools have helped Apps achieve a measure of success, its lack of on-premise apps have arguably limited its gains against Office/Office 365.

Google Capital (focused on later-stage tech companies) is continuing its rapid investment pace by leading an $85M investment round in credit score-tracking site Credit Karma. Google Capital, given a $300M infusion this year, has already put $40M into educational software firm Renaissance Learning, and $50M into real estate auction site