According to the reliable sources of All Things D, Google is involved in talks to acquire Meebo, the social platform that integrates cross-service chats as well as a social overlay for many websites. All Things D reports that the price tag on the sale would be about $100 million.
Given that Meebo has plug-ins for several different browsers, the pick-up would definitely increase the amount of information Google would be able to collect about people's browsing habits. Last September, Meebo announced that it had broadened its exposure to nearly half of all internet users in the United States at 92 million people. The persistent social bar that websites can use to interact with visitors is currently used by more than 8,000 sites.
It'll be curious to see how the aftermath would work out if Google does in fact acquire Meebo and whether all of the websites that currently use the platform would continue to do so; alternately, more company sites may use it more since Google is a more household name than Meebo.
Given that Google ran afoul of of the government earlier this year when it was found to be side-stepping a security feature in Microsoft's Internet Explorer and Apple's Safari, and that Meebo is currently available as an extension to both of the browsers (as well as for Firefox and Chrome), this may present Google with a tricksy way to continue to track users if they have the browser extension installed.
However, some of the services, like Meebo's messenger client, seem like it would be redundant in Google's inventory of services unless it has some broad Google+ integration the way it has done with Picasa.
Watch this space to find out if the acquisition rumors pan out.