Talk to me, Facebook! Social net buys speech recognition company

Acquiring Mobile Technologies could give Facebook another mobile boost

Facebook's latest acquisition should help users connect with the social network more easily while they're on the go. The move will also help Facebook increase its highly coveted base of mobile users.

Facebook announced today that it is buying Mobile Technologies, a company known for its speech recognition and machine translation technology. Mobile Technologies is the company behind Jibbigo, a mobile speech-to-speech translation app for Apple's iOS platform. Financial details were not disclosed.

Mobile Technologies announced on its site that "many" of its employees will be going to work for Facebook at its headquarters in Menlo Park, Calif., once the deal goes through, although a specific number was not given.

"Although more than a billion people around the world already use Facebook every month, we are always looking for ways to help connect the rest of the world as well," wrote Tom Stocky, director of product management at Facebook, in a blog post. "Voice technology has become an increasingly important way for people to navigate mobile devices and the web, and this technology will help us evolve our products to match that evolution. We believe this acquisition is an investment in our long-term product roadmap as we continue towards our company's mission."

Facebook has focused on building up its mobile user base for more than a year.

Last spring, the world's largest social network listed mobility among its "risk factors" in an amended filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. The company admitted that the quickening shift from traditional desktop or laptop computers to mobile devices was hurting Facebook's advertising plan, since it had no way to monetize this growing mobile trend.

But a lot has changed in the past year.

Facebook released a mobile app that quickly became the most popular in the U.S.

In May, Facebook reported that its monthly active user based increased by 23% to 1.11 billion, while its monthly active mobile users jumped by 54% to 751 million.

Mark Zuckerberg, the company's co-founder and CEO, has even started calling Facebook a mobile company. To that, most industry analysts can no longer disagree.

Ezra Gottheil, an analyst with Technology Business Research, said buying Mobile Technologies should only help Facebook grab more mobile users and retain the ones it already has.

"It's smart for Facebook to make their mobile apps interact through speech and voice," he added. "Facebook, read me the latest status messages. Facebook, post a comment."

Giving mobile users a hands-free way of interacting with Facebook, may mean that its users will spend even more time with the social network than they already do.

Patrick Moorhead, an analyst with Moor Insights & Strategy, said speech recognition is a key part of the next generation of user input. Mobile Technologies could help Facebook create its own voice-enabled assistant, such as Google Now or Apple's Siri.

"Speech recognition would enable me to post without using the keyboard or use Facebook's search feature more easily," Moorhead said. "If Facebook hopes to successfully extend their experience to more mobile devices and search, they need to be investing in these core technologies."

This article, Talk to me, Facebook! Social net buys speech recognition company, was originally published at Computerworld.com.

Sharon Gaudin covers the Internet and Web 2.0, emerging technologies, and desktop and laptop chips for Computerworld. Follow Sharon on Twitter at @sgaudin, on Google+ or subscribe to Sharon's RSS feed. Her email address is sgaudin@computerworld.com.

See more by Sharon Gaudin on Computerworld.com.

Read more about social media in Computerworld's Social Media Topic Center.

Join the CMO newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Show Comments

Supporting Association

Blog Posts

Disruption Down Under – What’s Amazon’s real competitive advantage?

Savvy shoppers wait in anticipation, while Australian retailers are gearing up for the onslaught. Amazon’s arrival is imminent.

Change across the board: Why boards need to digitally evolve

Traditionally the non-executive board of a company acts in an advisory capacity - attending monthly board meetings to offer overarching advice and guidance typically focusing on:

Jodie Sangster

CEO, ADMA

The most desirable customers you’ve overlooked

“What will really move the needle?” This is a question that keeps leaders awake at night. And at the intersection of some of their top priorities – finding pockets of growth, redefining the customer experience, and making an emotional impact – lies a latent market: Their diverse customers.

Really inspiring !

Goldenboy Media

Jaywing sets sights on Australian growth with digital and data-driven agency model

Read more

Being aware of regulations or guidlines is just the start. As our CEO Emma Lo Russo stated exactly two weeks ago at an event we supported...

Alan Smith

​Are the Wild West days of influencer collaboration over?

Read more

Rebranding is always nice solution to get better organisation. Businessman may apply certain special services (for example, https://www.l...

David Hill

CMO interview: Spearheading the global rebranding of OFX

Read more

Thank you so much for sharing this article.Top Digital Marketing company in Bangalore

Way To DM

Predictions: 17 digital marketing trends for 2017

Read more

Thanks for the great article Jodie, agree many boards and senior execs are operating in outdated modes, just as we need some reverse soci...

sharyn

Change across the board: Why boards need to digitally evolve - Data-driven marketing - CMO Australia

Read more

Latest Podcast

More podcasts

Sign in