April 11, 2013, 4:03 PM

Facebook acquires even more mobile talent

The social network brings on the 19 mobile software engineers from Osmeta.

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Facebook has said mobile is key to its future, and it’s been underlining that point with a string of mobile acquisitions. Facebook has now added mobile software start-up Osmeta to its roster. The social network quietly made the acquisition last week, Facebook confirmed for Internet Retailer. Facebook declined to comment further.

Facebook likely bought Osmeta for its talent as the start-up hasn’t yet released any products.

“We are working on really, really interesting software technology. It’s big. We will tell you more when the time is right,” the Osmeta web site says. “Our 19-person engineering team consists of world-renowned hackers and highly accomplished researchers capable of herculean software engineering. The breadth and depth of computer science knowledge contained within the brains of our team is remarkable. Most of us have had illustrious careers at places such as Google, IBM Research, Yahoo Research and VMware.”

The timing of the acquisition was apt. Last week Facebook debuted its Facebook Home app for Android smartphones. Rather than manufacture its own smartphone or create a new mobile operating system, Facebook created the Home app, which lets a consumer who chooses to activate it to change the way her smartphone looks and operates. The goal is to make Facebook the preeminent mobile activity, weaving the social network’s features and functions into the routine operations of Android devices.

Facebook has scored some major coups in mobile, including the acquisition of mobile photo-sharing firm Instagram and the recent launch of Facebook Home, says Chris Silva, mobile analyst at Altimeter Group, a technology research and consulting firm.

“But the brand has a long way to go to truly show it has a deep bench in mobile,” Silva says. “The Osmeta buy is a talent acquisition hire as Facebook realizes that creating the properties, such as Home, is step one in the battle for the mobile customer. There are many more steps they need to take in order to truly bring something unique to the fore for mobile users, capture more of the time users spend on their mobile devices, and, ultimately, monetize this usage, something that’s lacking from many of their launches to date.”

In July 2012 Facebook hired the team behind the mobile-caching start-up Spool. Facebook then promptly shut down the service’s operations. Spool offered free mobile apps for Google Inc. Android- and Apple Inc. iOS-powered devices that enabled consumers to save online content, such as articles or videos, which could then be viewed when the device was connected to the Internet.

Also in 2012 Facebook acquired companies including mobile gifting app Karma, Tagtile, a mobile loyalty company that serves very small businesses, and, most notably, photo-sharing mobile app Instagram.

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