Facebook snaps up social gifting app Karma

May 21, 2012
Tech

Facebook is very busy. The social networking company just had its initial public offering on Friday, made news earlier this month when it paid $1 billion for social photography app Instagram, and just acquired another notable app: Karma (also available on Android). The announcement of the acquisition was made on Karma’s blog, according to a […]

Facebook is very busy. The social networking company just had its initial public offering on Friday, made news earlier this month when it paid $1 billion for social photography app Instagram, and just acquired another notable app: Karma (also available on Android).

The announcement of the acquisition was made on Karma’s blog, according to a story from GigaOM, although the details of the deal haven’t been released. Karma noted in the blog that the acquisition won’t interrupt the app’s services, but should help to strengthen them. However, a Facebook spokesperson noted that purchasing Karma wasn’t about hiring on its staff: it was a true acquisition of the company and its services, and not an “acquhire,” as GigaOM notes.

For those unfamiliar with it, Karma is an app that lets users send each other gifts. It leverages Facebook’s social networking capabilities to link people together, and because of its Facebook integration, it allows for gift-sending without needing to know the recipient’s address or other details. The app also helps keep track of important events among your friends to let you know just when you ought to be sending gifts.

Facebook has been looking to buy up several apps lately, it seems, with Instagram being the highest-profile get for the social network. It also is creating an app store that will cater both to web and mobile users, and looks to be a partner with both Apple and Google in selling apps. Overall, Facebook’s outlook seems to be mobile-centric, and that makes a lot of sense.

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More than 50 percent of all Facebook users log-in to the network from mobile devices, but that’s a problem for Facebook. The company makes money from its ads, but it doesn’t have any ads on its mobile apps at all. So there’s a huge market there that Facebook isn’t exploiting.

There’s a very mixed interpretation of what’s going on with Facebook’s acquisitions, but mobile is certainly its clear target. Some journalists have suggested that the Instagram acquisition was to maintain Facebook’s dominance over photo-sharing in social networking. Now with Karma acquired as well, it seems that Facebook is looking to continue to roll-out important features that other companies are creating and innovating, often using Facebook’s structure as a foundation.

But grabbing apps like Karma and Instagram hasn’t yet yielded a mobile strategy. It seems Facebook is taking on a lot of mobile talent along with these acquisitions, and it may well be preparing a new mobile trick to share with the world. We’ll just have to wait and see what Facebook cooks up for now, though.

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Phil Hornshaw

Phil Hornshaw is a freelance writer, editor and author living in Los Angeles, dividing his time between playing video games, playing video games on his cell phone, and writing about playing video games. He’s also the co-author of So You Created a Wormhole: The Time Traveler’s Guide to Time Travel, which attempts to mix time travel pop culture with some semblance of science, as well as tips on the appropriate means of riding dinosaurs. Check out his profile.

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