Twitter acquires smart Android lockscreen Cover

Cover, which recommends apps to users based on their environment, will remain available for now

Financial trends and news by Steven Loeb
April 7, 2014
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(Updated to reflect comment from Twitter)

Facebook Home, the company's attempt to create a quasi-"Facebook phone" by taking over the Android coverscreen, premiered almostr exactly one year ago. And it was one of Facebooks biggest failures.

Turns out, people do not want their phone to revolve around their social media accounts. So why is Twitter now looking like it could, potentially, be wading into similarly harsh waters with its latest acquisition?

Twitter has decided to purchase Cover, an Android lockscreen that suggests apps to the user that they are most likely to want to access based on their surrounding environment. The acquisition was announced via  a blog post from Cover co-founders Gordon Luk, Todd Jackson and Edward Ho on Monday. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

"Since launching Cover in October, we’ve had the privilege of reaching hundreds of thousands of people. We’ve improved Cover with their help and feedback, and demonstrated how Android can help make people’s lives easier," they wrote.

"It’s been an incredible journey, a journey that we’re excited to announce is taking a turn today as we bring the Cover team to Twitter to take these ideas even further."

What exactly this all means for Cover is not entirely clear. The co-founders say that Cover will remain in the Google Play store "for now," and they promise to update users "if that changes down the road." Honestly, that takes it sound like Cover is not exactly long for this world in its present form. 

As for what else the team would be working on at Twitter, Luk, Jackson and Ho were pretty cagey about that as well.

"Twitter, like Cover, believes in the incredible potential of Android. They share our vision that smartphones can be a lot smarter — more useful and more contextual — and together we’re going to make that happen," they wrote.

"We’ll be building upon a lot of what makes Cover great, and we’re thrilled to create something even better at Twitter."

Cover raised $1.7 million in seed funding from investors that included First Round Capital and Max Levchin.

Whatever Twitter is planning to do with the Cover team, I hope that it does not try to create its own Home-like service, which essentially hijacked the user's phone and made it Facebook-centric. 

The app flopped, and vventually Facebook began incorporating the best, and most popular features, of Home, like Chat Heads, into its original app as Home faded into obscurity. 

It is more likely that Twitter is simply looking to solidify its mobile presence. That is, after all, where the majority of its money comes from. 

In the first quarter of 2014, Twitter posted revenue of $243 million, of which advertising accounted for $220 million. More importantly, over 75% of Twitter's ad revenue was from mobile. Mobile also represented 184 million, or 76%, of the company's 241 million total mothly active users (MAUs).

A Twitter spokesperson had nothing to share beyond the Cover blog post. 

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