After nearly a month of rumors, it's official: Facebook.com is buying facial recognition company Face.com.
While terms of the deal weren't announced, previous reports indicated that the price for the Israeli company would be somewhere in the range of $80m to $100m.
An acquisition involving facial recognition technology makes sense for Facebook. As a Facebook spokesperson told AllThingsDigital, "People who use Facebook enjoy sharing photos and memories with their friends. Face.com's technology has helped to provide the best photo experience."
That's a photo experience Facebook is desperately trying to replicate on the mobile web, where it's investing heavily. Interestingly, in announcing that his company was being acquired by Facebook, Face.com CEO Gil Hirsch stated:
We love building products, and like our friends at Facebook, we think that mobile is a critical part of people’s lives as they both create and consume content, and share content with their social graph. By working with Facebook directly, and joining their team, we’ll have more opportunities to build amazing products that will be employed by consumers – that’s all we’ve ever wanted to do.
But what's good news for Face.com and its investors may not be good news for developers using the Face.com API. While Hirsch says that his company will "continue to support our developer community," the world's largest social network obviously isn't in the business of providing technology solutions for third parties to build standalone applications on.
As such, one has to assume that there's a decent possibility Facebook will either eventually shutter the Face.com API or neglect it to the point that it becomes a less-than-attractive solution.
Which serves as a good reminder to developers: APIs are great, but if one of your providers is an important Facebook vendor, your API might very well eventually belong to Facebook.