Today: Facebook announces the launch of "Nearby Friends," and Zynga shows off a mobile version of "FarmVille 2." Also: AMD joins Google, Yahoo, Sandisk and Intel in Silicon Valley earnings parade.
The Lead: Facebook and Zynga launch new mobile offerings
Former close partners Facebook and Zynga launched new initiatives Thursday that showed the changes the two Silicon Valley firms have been forced to undertake after mistakes of the past.
Facebook announced the launch of "Nearby Friends," a location-sharing mobile effort that will alert users if they are in close physical proximity to friends with whom they are connected on the social network. Unlike many former initiatives by the Menlo Park company, though, "Nearby Friends" will require those who want to use the service to opt into it, after Facebook has faced privacy kerfuffles previously for automatically pushing users into new offerings.
"Nearby Friends is an optional feature," Facebook's Andrea Vaccari stressed in a blog post announcing the new feature Thursday, which included the optional nature in its headline. "You can choose who can see if you're nearby (for example: your friends, close friends, or a specific friends list) and you can turn it on and off at any time."
The location-sharing service is similar to Find My Friends, an Apple offering on mobile devices that also allows people to broadcast their locations to friends who have opted in to the service. The feature will roll out slowly and not be available to users younger than 18, said Vaccari, who came to Facebook in 2012 when the company acquired his similar app, Glancee, and has been working on the product since.
One of Facebook's first big social hits was "FarmVille," a game that made the name of creator Zynga and helped push the company to a big initial public offering. Since Zynga's breakup with Facebook, mobile games have grown more popular and San Francisco-based Zynga has had trouble finding similar hits, so Thursday it announced a new mobile version of "FarmVille 2" that it hopes will reinvigorate its crumbling user base.
"FarmVille pioneered social gaming on the web, and with 'FarmVille 2: Country Escape,' we've re-imagined the franchise as a mobile experience to match how players want to connect with their farm and with their friends," Zynga executive Jonathan Knight said in Thursday's news release.
The new version allows users to maintain digital farms and tend to them through personal computers or mobile devices, but will also allow single-player action, giving players who do not enjoy the social aspect of the game to ditch it. Players will be able to transfer goods from the Facebook game to the mobile game, and there is offline play available when a mobile device is not connected.
"We're finally delivering something that aligns with the new devices and new consumer patterns people are using all over the world," CEO Don Mattrick told USA Today.
Zynga gained 4.4 percent to $4.29 Thursday, while Facebook declined 1.3 percent to $58.94.
SV150 market report: AMD joins earnings parade as Google declines
Technology stocks marked another slight advance Thursday on Wall Street amid a stream of Silicon Valley earnings reports, which included Advanced Micro Devices's Thursday report.
AMD reported a net loss of $20 million, or 3 cents a share, on sales of $1.4 billion Thursday, a better result than the same quarter a year ago and ahead of analyst projections, which were for revenues of $1.34 billion. The Sunnyvale chipmaker's stock, which dropped 1.9 percent to $3.69 in the regular session, recovered in late trading to top $3.90. AMD joined Intel in beating projections in the chip industry, and the Santa Clara company continued to gain Thursday after its post-earnings bump, adding 0.4 percent to $27.04. Google did not receive a post-earnings bump after announcing lower profits than expected Wednesday, falling 3.7 percent to $543.34 even though analysts were mostly positive about the report, even while cutting price targets. Sandisk had a much better day, following its earnings report with a 9.4 percent gain to $82.99, which pushed the Milpitas flash-memory company back toward record price levels. Yahoo gained another 0.1 percent after Wednesday's big gains on hopes for a high Alibaba valuation, even as a company filing showed a huge payout to departed executive Henrique de Castro; Investors also likely saw reports that Yahoo wants to replace Google as the go-to search engine for Apple.
Apple gained 1.1 percent to $524.94 Thursday amid reports that the company will build its own version of the Shazam app into the next version of its mobile operating system. Netflix roared 4.3 percent higher to $345.74 as Bloomberg News reported a deal was in the works with Vodafone, the second largest mobile carrier in the world, and Pacific Crest Securities analyst Andy Hargreaves upgraded the Los Gatos company's stock. Twitter gained 1.3 percent to $45.01 after announcing that it would begin offering app-install ads on its mobile application, a move that helped Facebook increase mobile revenues. Pandora fell 1.2 percent to $27.02 while facing a lawsuit from record labels, and Oracle fell 0.1 percent to $40.08 while continuing to patch holes in Java.
Up: Sandisk, Zynga, Netflix, Workday, LinkedIn, Splunk, Adobe, Twitter, Apple, SolarCity, Gilead, VMware, Cisco
Down: Google, AMD, Hewlett-Packard, Yelp, Facebook, Pandora, NetApp, SunPower, Tesla, Intuit, Oracle, Electronic Arts
The SV150 index of Silicon Valley's largest tech companies: Up 3.23, or 0.24 percent, to 1,369.52
The tech-heavy Nasdaq composite index: Up 9.29, or 0.23 percent, to 4,095.52
The blue chip Dow Jones industrial average: Down 16.31, or 0.1 percent, to 16,408.54
And the widely watched Standard & Poor's 500 index: Up 2.54, or 0.14 percent, to 1,864.85
Check in weekday afternoons for the 60-Second Business Break, a summary of news from Mercury News staff writers, The Associated Press, Bloomberg News and other wire services. Contact Jeremy C. Owens at 408-920-5876; follow him at Twitter.com/jowens510.