Facebook is one of the most popular communication mediums in the history of the world, but according to web analytics firm Webtrends, there’s not enough developers who know how to build applications for it. The company says that’s why it has acquired turnkey application development creator Transpond.

Transpond is an application publishing tool for Facebook, iPhone and Android Apps, as well as mobile-friendly web pages. Webtrends will offer the service as a new service called Webtrends Apps.


Above: A screenshot of the new Webtrends Apps WYSIWYG interface. Click for a larger view.

Webtrends says it serves more than 7,000 customers, from the New York Times to Microsoft to Coca Cola and the White House. The 17 year-old company has 325 employees and a complicated history. Transpond is much smaller and lists customers including CBS, Live Nation and Electronic Arts. The now-acquired Transpond is also developing a product to serve up customer apps on Google TV, something that would be very interesting to see Webtrends take a shot at.

Some people don’t like the legacy Webtrends product, but some others say it’s the Mercedes of web analytics. Recommendation service Istobe surveyed more than 500 online retailers at the start of this year and found just over 1% of them used Webtrends. (The market was dominated by Google Analytics, Omniture and Coremetrix.) Google Analytics is free of course and Webtrends is a sophisticated product that a company makes a bigger commitment to.

Either way, Webtrends is a substantial player in the analytics market and will now bring its strategy to the social application development market as well.

Developer Supply and Demand

Webtrends says it surveyed the top 100 most social-media engaged companies on Charlene Li’s EngagementDB report and found that 83 had between zero and three Facebook apps or tabs built. The new Webtrends Apps service will offer easy app creation for under $5,000.

“We talked to every company on the Facebook Prefered App Developers List,” says Justin Kistner, Senior Manager Social Media Marketing at Webtrends.

“There is a major shortage of developers that know anything about Facebook. Getting anything done in Facebook is expensive and tends in have too many cooks in the kitchen. Those providers are innundated and that’s causing all the campaigns to cost too much and take too long. Business systems like measurement don’t get added. We’ve eliminated the need for developers for our customers and integrated the business systems from the start.”

The new apps provide analytics including clicks, conversions, demographics and geography. App owners that include a Webtrends subscription will be able to get even more data about app users.

Webtrends Apps can be contrasted with Powered, a marketing agency that acquired its own Facebook application shop (StepChange) earlier this year, among many others. Between Powered and Webtrends, one consolidated firm comes from a marketing perspective and the other from analytics.

Can Webtrends Apps help kick off a renaissance of smart, affordable, Facebook and mobile app creation? Time will tell, but that’s what the company will now take to market, along with its core analytics product.

Disclosure: Webtrends’ Kistner is a long-time personal friend of the author’s, who tried very hard to be objective in this coverage.