Facebook buys maker of fitness app 'Moves'. Why?

Facebook confirmed it is buying ProtoGeo, the maker of comprehensive fitness app Moves. Will the social media site make a good running buddy?

Ben Margot/AP/File
A sign at Facebook headquarters in Menlo Park, Calif. The social media company came under fire this past weekend for a controversial study that manipulated users' news feeds.

In addition to liking your statuses and monitoring your profile changes, your Facebook friends could soon be tracking your workouts.

Facebook confirmed that it is buying Helsinki-based ProtoGeo, maker of physical activity tracking app Moves, on Friday. The purchase hints at the social network's ambitions in the mobile space, especially as it seeks to diversify its offerings beyond a place to share photo albums and status updates.

“Since we launched Moves, we’ve been focused on running a simple and clean activity diary that millions of people have enjoyed using,” says the startup in a blog post. “Now, we’re joining Facebook’s talented team to work on building and improving their products and services with a shared mission of supporting simple, efficient tools for more than a billion people.”

Moves is an app for iOS and Android that tracks your movement throughout the day, sort of like a multi-faceted pedometer. It automatically records your running, biking, and walking activity, and you can view metrics like calories burned, distance traveled, duration of activity and others, for each activity. It also creates an “activity diary,” that acts as a combined register of where you go and how you got there.

So what does Facebook want with a fitness tracker?

That is a great question, and one without a specifically confirmed answer so far. In the past, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has talked about how there is a need for Facebook to expand beyond a social network. He has said this could extend into creating more apps that connect back to the base social network, but delve into new areas. A statement from a Facebook spokesperson on the deal also seemed to suggest that is the social media site’s direction.

"As part of Facebook's multi-app strategy, we're excited to announce that the popular Moves app will be joining Facebook's suite of applications," says a spokesperson according to Computer World.

This is in line with Facebook’s recent activity. Facebook recently disabled messaging on its main app. If you want to use the Facebook messaging function, you now have to download a separate Facebook app called Messenger .

A fitness app could allow more monitoring where people are, what their activity looks like, and, therefore, what they need. This would help target ads, a major revenue source for Facebook thus far. Facebook also recently rolled out “Nearby Friends” an optional mobile feature that will show where your Facebook friends are located.

As for Moves, the company says for now it is staying a standalone app, and it won’t be feeding your information to the social media behemoth.

“For those of you that use the Moves app – the Moves experience will continue to operate as a standalone app, and there are no plans to change that or commingle data with Facebook,” Moves adds on its blog.

Facebook and ProtoGeo did not disclose the financial details of the deal.

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