Unless you were at SXSW, live in the Bay area or are really into SoLoMo apps, you’ve probably never heard of Glancee, the ambient location app that Facebook purchased last Friday night.
Here’s what the after hours announcement Facebook released to the public said:
We are thrilled to confirm that Facebook has acquired Glancee. The acquisition closed today. We can’t wait for co-founders Andrea, Alberto and Gabriel to join the Facebook team to work on products that help people discover new places and share them with friends.”
Cut through the PR talk and here’s what that means: Glancee, the app available via the iTunes store is about to disappear. Its functionalities will now be integrated into Facebook. The Glancee team, all of whom have stellar Computer Science backgrounds (some of them PhDs), are going to write apps for Facebook. And finally, if you happen to be a Glancee user, you need to go retrieve your content while you still can.
Now, if you’re a Facebook enthusiast, you’ll be thrilled to know that in the near future you’ll likely have access to a Facebook-branded mobile app that will ping you anytime you are physically near someone you, or one of your friends, has friended or to someone who shares the same interests as you.
And, though it probably won’t tell you precisely where they are (though it could), it will show you their Facebook photo and tell you that they’re within as little as 750 ft. of you.
Creepy or Cool?
It seems as if SXSW attendees couldn’t make up their minds as to whether Glancee’s functionalities were creepy or cool. Of the 10,000 people who reportedly downloaded the app, 3000 became active users according to AppData.
Users who like the app have said things like:
I've been talking to this cool guy from Ecuador because of a book we both read. We both never met anyone that had read it before!" (Karen, student from Chicago)
I already met 3 entrepreneurs in San Francisco. One beer and a great chat, and one of them has already helped us with Whit.ly." (Jack, cofounder of Whit.ly)
Others, who looked at the app, said it creeped them out or that they really didn’t want strangers who happened to see the same movie as they did tapping them on the shoulder at a club or a grocery store.
I really don’t want to have real-world encounters with most of the people on my Facebook,” said one.
Why did Facebook buy Glancee?
While Mark Zuckerberg hasn’t yet (as of this writing) stood before a crowd and explained why this acquisition is important to Facebook, company followers and prospective investors shouldn’t have much trouble guessing at his reasoning. He’ll likely reiterate that Facebook’s mission is to make the world a “more open and connected” place and explain how Glancee’s functionalities will help Facebook accomplish that.
Will it Help to Sell Ads?
If Glancee-like features become widely adopted by Facebook users, they’ll be more likely to leave the GPS activated on their phones which turns them into easy targets for advertisers. Retailers, for example, would be able to push coupons and ads at customers when they’re just a few steps outside their doors.
Buy or Build?
Couldn’t Facebook have built the same type of app by hiring an A-team of app developers? The answer is most likely yes, but not soon enough for its pre-IPO investor tour which begins today. One of the biggest weaknesses analysts have said the social networking site has is its lack of mobile apps, and now this is becoming less and less true. In just the last month, Facebook has purchased both Instagram and now Glancee.
How will the integration of these apps affect the way you use Facebook? Are you open to the idea of real world, real time discoveries by Facebook friends, friends of Facebook friends, and people whom you don’t know but who might share the same interests?