Facebook is reportedly acquiring Face.com, which is in line with the social network's strategy to remain relevant in an increasingly mobile computing environment. Sources peg the acquisition amount at US$ 100 million.
Facebook has just issued its initial public offering, which brought mixed feelings from fans, investors and technology analysts alike. Post-IPO, the company is keen on pursuing its long-term goals to keep dominating social media. This is likely to be an uphill battle on the mobile front, though.
For one, Facebook does not control any mobile platform, unlike Apple, Microsoft and Google, which have iOS, Windows Phone and Android, respectively. The challenge here is to keep smartphone and tablet users using Facebook on their mobile devices.
There are rumors that Facebook is planning to launch its own mobile phone or mobile platform, so that it does not remain simply an app that runs on existing mobile devices. For now, however, Facebook may be focusing on its strengths, and is likely to start by consolidating technologies that will keep improving the Facebook mobile experience.
Natural Acquisition Target
The reported Face.com acquisition is just one of these. The Israeli company develops face-detection technology that easily identifies persons from photos and other media based on their facial profiles.
As TechCrunch observes, Face.com's technology is a "natural acquisition target for Facebook," given the importance of photos to Facebook's lock-in strategy for its users. Face recognition supposedly helps Facebook improve its advertising platform through the ability to tag and connect users' photos with friends.
Facebook already features Face.com's popular Photo Tagger application that enables users to scan photo albums for known faces. Facebook is likely to integrate these features into their own photo-tagging offering.
But more than just tagging photos, the relevance of Face.com is likely to be in mobile. Facebook has just recently launched its camera app, and Face.com's facial recognition might make its way through Facebook's camera app for mobile devices.
Opera in Facebook's Sights, Too
Another reported acquisition target for Facebook would be Opera, which is said to be integral to Facebook's plans to strengthen its mobile platform. Opera currently has about 270 million users, and the browser's mobile optimization features may be a key feature in the development of a smartphone or mobile platform. Sources from Opera have said that the company is currently in talks with potential buyers, but this does not necessarily mean Facebook.
It all fits into place, although none of the concerned companies would confirm nor deny acquisition plans. What's clear at this point is that Facebook needs to strengthen its position as a mobile platform, and not only as a social networking app, but possibly by launching a separate operating system or mobile device altogether.