Facebook acquired the personal location tracking app “Moves” yesterday. The announcement says the apps won’t “comingle,” but I’m just going to assume they do and have fun with this post. Moves was an interesting app that was cool yet you could just tell it would be hard for any app like this to breakout and standalone, let alone have a business model. It was a product tryout, and they did a great job. Initially, moves was interesting because they worked really hard to minimize battery depletion while the app was running in the background on iOS. From a consumer perspective, they offered users access to data in exchange for running the battery, just like Heyday does, and Highlight does, and a few others. It’s a delicate trade and one that many early-adopters are wary of (because they’re sensitive to battery and location privacy), but one that I believe (increasingly) is less of a concern to the mass market.
Now within Facebook, it’s interesting to think of Moves — less as an app, and more like an extendible SDK — that can work inside the native iPhone app for Facebook. As we are all bearing witness too, more and more people are using Facebook more and more, and on mobile, Facebook’s app penetration and daily usage are huge despite ever blogger’s attempt to assert that mobile is disrupting the core Facebook experience. So, for fun, let’s think about Moves functionality inside the newest and next generation of iPhones — as an SDK folded into the native Facebook’s mobile codebase (Android too, of course), the app could then leverage more sensors than just location (while the app is open or running in the background, if permission is granted) and pick up on the gyroscope, accelerometer, and more, creating a different kind of “digital fingerprint” for each user in the real world. Literally, how Facebook users move. Additionally, on the iPhone, it could benefit from the new M7 motion sensor chips which allow apps to access persistent and significant-change location APIs, and other sensors, by drawing even less battery power from the main processors.
It all rolls up like this: Humans are using Facebook more and more. I just heard Zuck comment that for the first time in FB’s life, over 50% of users opened Facebook or the app at least 6 out of 7 days a week!! Think about that for a second. It’s trending up! And on mobile, Facebook has tremendous penetration at the app layer, it hasn’t really turned on Instagram for money, and essentially bought a small telco with Whatsapp. It’s also minting cash at an astonishing rate and referring more and more traffic across mobile and web. Facebook knows who we are, who we are connected to, what we like, and they also know where we are when we open the app, when we take an Instagram photo, and so on…and potentially with Moves, they could know if we bike to work, take Caltrain, how active we are, and so much more, and this gives him a chance to help people find and use fitness-related products and services, to learn more about who may be around us, and a host of other interesting product use cases.