Another Mobile Talent Acquisition as Facebook Buys Photo App Maker Digital Staircase
Facebook picked up yet another small startup in what may help efforts to build a full-featured, standalone photo or video app.
The company bought Digital Staircase, the maker of a handful of photo and video editing apps like MovieCam, according to the startup’s blog.
“We’re announcing today that we’re being acquired by Facebook to help bring these mobile innovations to a broader audience. Many things may change, but our dedication to immersive experiences will not,” the company wrote in a statement.
Digital Staircase had a modest amount of success with a handful of paid apps. The company had published five apps to date, although three of them hadn’t seen any updates in two years. Its two most recent releases were MovieCam and MovieCam Go, priced at $2.99 and $1.99 respectively. Those apps seemed to hover in between the #100 and #200 range in the paid apps part of the photography category, indicating it might have been difficult to scale up beyond much of a lifestyle business.
The company’s president Hamilton Chong, however, seems to have quite a great deal of expertise in computer vision, having focused on the field for his Ph.D. from Harvard University. He might be able to help as Facebook builds out richer editing tools for photos and video on smartphones.
In the past year, Facebook has moved away from trying to cram all of its features into a single smartphone app. It became clear that apps that were single-mindedly focused on one function like photo app Instagram were gaining momentum, potentially at the expense of photos in the main Facebook app. It’s been rumored that Facebook plans to do the same thing with a standalone photos app, according to The New York Times. But no such experience has launched yet.
The company has taken this strategy in other areas — namely, in group chat. Facebook launched a standalone group messaging app after it acquired a group of former Google product managers through the startup Beluga. That app had an initial bit of success before falling back down the charts. With a recent update, however, Messenger has been able to stick in the top 10 free apps.