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 newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Show Comments

Blog Posts

Maintaining trust in a sceptical world: The power of brand trust

The faith people have in brands creates opportunity for those brands to become trusted advisors. In turn, this builds success by increasing the brand’s profile, letting it broaden its product offering and driving stronger customer loyalty.

Dan Ratner

managing director, uberbrand

When growth stalls: How to boost growth in large organisations

The push to start new businesses continues. In Q1 2017, the number of seed and angel deals increased by 1.4 per cent compared to Q1 2016.

Con Frantzeskos

CEO, Penso

Why we need diversity in marketing

​When we read articles about the need for increased diversity in marketing land, it is often through the lens of gender.

Jodie Sangster

CEO, ADMA

Educational activities is always a prestigious approaches in taking time for the smoother operational planning to implement in the long r...

ikuyo

Save the Children's marketing chief swaps not-for-profit for education

Read more

We all know that digital marketing in order to promote a brand, products and services is by the use of electronic media. The evolution of...

Helaina Berry

Predictions: 17 digital marketing trends for 2017

Read more

Interesting insight, well explained and the examples are just apt.Thanks for sharing!

FreshMindIdeas

The politics of branding - Brand science - CMO Australia

Read more

When the world that we live in floods with gigabytes of content every day, we have to learn to be selective about it. Such educational we...

Paulina Cameron

ADMA launches education program to tackle viewability, ad fraud and brand safety

Read more

Hi, i am an Aistralian ALK patient, been on xalkori dec 13 to oct 15 and achieved remission of disease, since been on Ceritinib until no...

gary packer

Pfizer Australia adopts AI-powered digital analyst tool for sales and marketing decision making

Read more

Latest Podcast

More podcasts

Sign in