With 1.5 billion total accounts, Facebook has over one seventh of the entire world population as its user base. And that means that it users who speak, and write, in many, many different languages. So how do two people, in two different parts of the world, connect when they can't understand each other?
The key is technology that will translate their speech, which Facebook will now have through its acquisition of Mobile Technologies, the company behind speech-to-speech translation app Jibbigo. The purchase was revealed in a Facebook post from Tom Stocky, Facebook's Director of Product Management, on Monday.
As per the deal, "members of Mobile Technologies will join Facebook," a Facebook spokesperson confirmed to VatorNews. "As for their app, Jibbigo, we plan to continue supporting it as is for the time being."
The spokesperson would not disclosed the financial terms of the deal, nor how many of Mobile Technologies' employees would be coming to Facebook.
In Stocky's post, he commended the team at Mobile Technologies, calling them "some of the industry's most talented people," and described what the acquisition meant for Facebook's future.
"It has always been our mission to make the world more open and connected. 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," he said.
And it is for this reason that voice technology is important to the company, as it makes it easier for people around the world to "navigate mobile devices and the web, and this technology will help us evolve our products to match that evolution."
In a separate press release, Mobile Technologies confirmed that the Jibbigo app would continue to operate under Facebook.
"Facebook, with its mission to make the world more open and connected, provides the perfect platform to apply our technology at a truly global scale. We look forward to continuing to develop our technology at Facebook and finding new and interesting ways to apply it to Facebook’s long-term product roadmap," the company said.
Pittsburgh-based Mobile Technologies was founded in 2001, with the goal breaking down language barriers around the world.
The company built Jibbigo in 2009, as an app that it describes as "the world’s first speech-to-speech translator on a phone that runs online and even off-line." The app lets users choose from 20 different languages, record their own voice, and then get a translation in another language from the list.
The company also developed "the first automatic, simultaneous interpretation service for lectures and deployed it in educational settings."
Mobile Technologies is Facebook's seventh acquisition this year so far.
Most recently Facebook picked up code-verification-software developer Monoidics in July.
(Image source: https://www.globalreporting.org)