Facebook’s future is mobile – more users log in to the social network from their mobile devices than through any other means - and it’s also the way by which Facebook makes the least money.
So in order to change that, as well as to continue to empower its mobile presence, Facebook has just made a deal to shut down Android photo-sharing app developer Lightbox and hire seven of its employees to work on Facebook’s mobile apps. As TechCrunch reports, the app is being pulled from Google Play, and if you are a user of Lightbox Photos, you will need to download your photos from the app by June 15 or lose them.
Facebook has had some trouble in the mobile sphere. Despite its apps being incredibly popular and frequently used, the company is often criticized for being slow, and Facebook isn’t very agile in the mobile space. It took better than a year for the company to finally release an iPad version of its mobile app, a fact that annoyed many users. Grabbing Lightbox’s engineers, then, should hopefully help Facebook to strengthen its mobile game. This should mean app improvements for users, and a better mobile infrastructure for the company.
Lightbox is (or was) in the consumer app business, and its first app, Lightbox Photos, was a social networking platform that allowed users to automatically create photo blogs by uploading shots from their devices. It allowed users to instantly create sites through which photos could be accessed, and that kind of thinking might serve Facebook well when mixing it with its acquisition of Instagram. The trouble with Instagram is that, while uploading photos is easy and fast, viewing them requires Instagram’s app or for the photo to be sent to Twitter or Facebook. Lightbox instantly created photo blog sites with their own URLs, making access to those photos easier.
Facebook can use help in the mobile sphere. Grabbing Instagram for $1 billion will undoubtedly help its mobile presence, but Lightbox’s engineers should as well. It’s an area where Facebook needs to invest, because it currently doesn’t support ads for its mobile space, but that’s where more users are getting into Facebook. There’s money being left on the table there, and Facebook needs to figure out how to grab hold of it.