Facebook acquires Android photo-sharing app Lightbox

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A month after acquiring photo-sharing application Instagram for $1 billion, Facebook has scooped up the similar Lightbox, which enables Android devices users to snap, filter and share images across multiple social media platforms. Financial details were not disclosed.

Lightbox co-founders Thai Tran and Nilesh Patel confirmed the deal on the firm's blog, stating that Facebook is acquiring the development team behind the app: "Facebook is not acquiring the company or any of the user data hosted on Lightbox.com," Tran and Patel stated. Lightbox is no longer accepting new users and has been removed from the Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) Play storefront; existing users can continue accessing the app through June 15, and may download their photos here. "In the coming weeks, we will be open sourcing portions of the code we've written for Lightbox and posting them to our Github repository," Tran and Patel added.

While the Lightbox acquisition may seem redundant following the Instagram deal, the two apps feature some significant differences. TechCrunch notes that critics have called the Instagram platform too siloed, limiting user engagement with photos to mobile apps and social networks. By comparison, the cloud-hosted Lightbox service allows consumers to access and comment on photos across any user interface, including mobile and desktop websites; adding the talent behind the app should enable Facebook to expand and enhance cross-platform user interactions moving forward.

The Lightbox deal represents Facebook's latest attempt to boost its mobile presence in anticipation of the social network's May 17 IPO. Facebook will look to mobile advertising as a major revenue source moving forward, promising significant investments in its mobile platform during a recent video recorded to drum up Wall Street support for the IPO. Facebook CFO David Ebersman said Facebook is even willing to make moves that have a negative impact on the company's operating margins: "While we aspire for Facebook to be a high-margin business over the long run, we won't hesitate to make additional incremental investments needed to drive user engagement," Ebersman said. "Mobile is a good example of this investment approach."

Last week, Facebook co-founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg said improving the social network's mobile application is his "first priority" for 2012. Speaking in front of about 200 investors, Zuckerberg said engineers are putting the final touches on new products designed to drive revenue from Facebook's 488 million mobile users, but he did not divulge specifics on the company's plans.

Facebook released the sixth revision of its S-1 filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission last week, admitting that increasing its mobile base and shifting users away from its ad-supported desktop services could negatively impact its business model and long-term revenue outlook.

"We believe this increased usage of Facebook on mobile devices has contributed to the recent trend of our daily active users (DAUs) increasing more rapidly than the increase in the number of ads delivered," states the revised S-1 filing. "If users increasingly access Facebook mobile products as a substitute for access through personal computers, and if we are unable to successfully implement monetization strategies for our mobile users, or if we incur excessive expenses in this effort, our financial performance and ability to grow revenue would be negatively affected."

Facebook plans to raise as much as much as $16 billion with its IPO, announcing Wednesday that it will sell a total of 421.2 million shares, up from previous projections of 337.4 million shares. Facebook is expected to price the IPO between $34 and $38 per share.

For more:
- read this Lightbox Blog entry
- read this TechCrunch article

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