Facebook Home: some thoughts

Yesterday Facebook launched a major move called Facebook Home to gain even more control of its users’ smartphones. ‘Home is a family of Facebook apps that overhauls your entire [Android] device, turning it into a Facebook phone,’ ‘a deep software integration with Android that puts Facebook services front and center. [sic]‘ It was announced alongside the HTC First, which has Facebook Home pre-installed. Here are some initial thoughts.

  • This is a bold move by Facebook – people have been talking for a while about how they needed to make more money from mobile usage, and they’re certainly making a big effort to do so.
  • This could be a good move by HTC to become a bigger presence in Android and use Facebook to partly counter the effect of Samsung’s huge marketing budget.
  • Are Facebook considering buying HTC? And if they bought Instagram for $1 billion, how much for?
  • This could be very popular – for people who aren’t very technically-minded, and spend a lot of time using Facebook and Instagram, this is potentially an excellent set of apps.
  • On the other hand, except for the HTC First, this is initially launching on top-end phones, so teenagers with cheaper Android phones will be left out (which is why the First is $100)
  • There are some huge privacy issues here – I know someone is getting my data whatever happens, but I wouldn’t want Facebook to have access to any more of my life than it does already.
  • How annoying are the inevitable adverts going to be? They’re trying to tie people in by not having adverts at first, but will it be worth having them all over your phone to use these apps? And as The Verge notes, Amazon subsidise their Kindles in return for you putting up with adverts, but Facebook won’t be making phones any cheaper.
  • Google and Facebook are essentially fighting over making money from ads on Android, so it’ll be interesting to see what they do next. Nexus phones won’t be getting Facebook Home at first, so it’ll be interesting to see if or how Google expands that brand.
  • It will be interesting to see how this interacts with other social networks – what if you also want to use Twitter or Google+? Facebook clearly have no interest in encouraging people to use other services.
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