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Facebook Home is not a threat to Android or Google (neither is Samsung or Amazon)

Facebook Home is not a threat to Android or Google (neither is Samsung or Amazon)
There is always a lot of talk around products that are supposedly "threats to Android" or "threats to Google", but we think that those arguments are looking at the puzzle the wrong way. Facebook Home is something wholly different and interesting, but it isn't a threat to Android. Samsung is by far the dominant handset maker in the Android ecosystem, but it isn't a threat to Google. Amazon completely forked Android and stripped out Google altogether, but you know what? It isn't a threat to Google.

The reason comes from a reminder we gave when talking about the possible positive effects of Facebook Home: Google created Android this way for a reason. Google is not filled with a bunch of idiots. Andy Rubin and Larry Page are incredibly smart guys. The decision to make Android open and highly customizable was not one that was taken lightly. Google could have made Android closed like iOS, Windows Phone, or BlackBerry, but it didn't. Google created Android to be malleable, even if it meant complete forks like the Kindle Fire. This was a conscious decision, and Andy and Larry fully understood the consequences of that choice, and here's why:

Android creates its own competition

A threat is a far different thing than competition, and what Android does is create its own competition. Facebook Home is not a threat to Android, it is competition for all Android handset makers, including Google. Facebook Home changes the idea of what Android can be, but even on dedicated devices like the HTC First, if you don't like it, you can revert back to stock Android, which is pure Google. And, if Home becomes successful (still a big if) it will force everyone else to create better experiences on Android. If consumers respond well to Facebook Home 
Facebook Home is not a threat to Android or Google (neither is Samsung or Amazon)
(which they haven't been in the early going), Samsung will have to rethink TouchWiz, HTC will have to rethink Sense, and even Google will have to rethink stock Android. And, those are all good things

Competition forces everyone to be better, including Google. Amazon's Kindle Fire platform isn't a threat to Android or to Google, because as yet it hasn't proven that it will overtake Google Android at all. Kindle Fire is good for content consumption and light gaming, but anything beyond that is still a tough sell because it is incredibly hard to replicate the Google Apps experience. Forks are a big risk for those that create them, because forks are motivation for Google to make sure the Google Apps experience on Android is the best it can be. Even if a user isn't a big Google Apps user, the inclusion of dedicated and high quality Google Maps and YouTube apps on Google Android devices gives those devices an advantage on a forked system.

This is why we don't give all that much credence to the idea that Samsung would leverage its dominance in the Android ecosystem to completely fork Android. There are plenty of reasons why Samsung could split from Google, but no one has given a compelling reason why Samsung should. Android costs Samsung nothing, and most of Samsung's most compelling features would not exist without Google's work on Android. Smart Stay, Smart Scroll, and all of the other eye-tracking features are built on the facial recognition services Google added to Android in 4.0. 

Samsung could split from Android, but in the process, it would lose all of the Google Apps, including the Play Store. Samsung would have to make its own YouTube app, and partner up with a mapping service, unless it wants to go through the same thing Apple did with Apple Maps. If Samsung purchases a Play Store alternative like GetJar or Slide ME, only then would it be time to consider the company a real threat. But, if Samsung completely abandons Android, there's no guarantee that users will follow Samsung away from Google.

Conclusion

Ultimately, all of these things exist in the world that Google created, and it's the way that Google wants it. Google wants companies to try new things with Android like Facebook Home. Google wants companies to be successful with Android like Samsung. Google even wants complete forks like Kindle Fire. None of these are threats, they are competition within the ecosystem, pushing Google to make its Apps layer better, and pushing other manufacturers to work harder. The reality is that Google needs all the competition it can get, because there isn't too much left in the mobile sphere. 

iOS is really the only viable competition outside of the Android ecosystem right now, but even iOS is really only major competition in the US and relatively minor competition everywhere else. Windows Phone is making strides, especially in Europe, but isn't there yet. And, all of the other competitors are either on their way out (BlackBerry, Symbian), or haven't even been released yet (Ubuntu, Firefox, Tizen). 

Calling something a "threat" implies that it will actually hurt Android or Google in some way. As yet, there is no reason to believe that Facebook Home will hurt Android at all. In fact, it seems like a better option than a complete fork. Kindle Fire has found its niche and doesn't look like it's moving past that. Samsung has the potential to be a threat, but it also has plenty of reasons not to rock the boat. And, while all of these companies are adding value to Android, it keeps Google working harder to make its offerings even better, especially with the new devices it will be pushing out through Motorola. 

47 Comments
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posted on 13 Apr 2013, 12:35 16

1. osmaankhaan (unregistered)


no threat to google or android so case solved and closed.

posted on 13 Apr 2013, 13:17 3

9. Mxyzptlk (Posts: 4169; Member since: 21 Apr 2012)


Unfortunately this does creates a big problem, fragmentation. Too many customizations makes things inconsistent especially with version upgrades.

posted on 13 Apr 2013, 13:29 21

13. MichaelHeller (Posts: 2693; Member since: 26 May 2011)


Inconsistency is only a problem for people who use a bunch of different devices all the time. If you use one device, there's no such thing as inconsistency, because there's no reference points for differentiation.

posted on 13 Apr 2013, 14:16 8

19. fur0n (Posts: 69; Member since: 13 Jun 2012)


Plus with the help of CyanogenMod you can have all your devices the same and on the newest version of android!

posted on 13 Apr 2013, 16:20 1

28. omar300 (Posts: 194; Member since: 24 Jun 2012)


Well there is nexus line up for people who fear fragmentation. i think of fragmentation as a flavor of android.
fragmentation is nothing new. all not so smartphone used to have their own java interface. nokia had their own, samsung and lg and everyone had their own.
none of that stopped people from buying it.

posted on 13 Apr 2013, 23:28

39. nanbanda (Posts: 17; Member since: 30 Mar 2013)


they start with something but end with another thing, history to repeat itself, lets wait and c.

posted on 14 Apr 2013, 20:06

49. rusticguy (Posts: 2828; Member since: 11 Aug 2012)


Fragmentation is history .. SJ is long dead and with him went all his RANTS ...

posted on 13 Apr 2013, 14:28 1

20. joseph98 (Posts: 167; Member since: 03 Feb 2012)


Actually instead of saying facebook home is a threat to google, I can say the opposite. I am not into facebook but I liked facebook home somehow after I installed it in my gn2. Imagine if facebook home is only available for Android then I guarantee you that all facebook lovers would love to switch from ios or wp8 to android just to get this app. Time will tell if I am right.

posted on 13 Apr 2013, 15:08

22. akki20892 (Posts: 3657; Member since: 04 Feb 2013)


Ok

http://kwinofnothing.files.wordpress.com/2012/07/1_i_dont_want_to_live_on_this_planet_anymore-s500x282-295658-580.jpg?w=580

posted on 13 Apr 2013, 15:21 2

23. bojan (Posts: 188; Member since: 06 Oct 2012)


it is treat to google +

posted on 13 Apr 2013, 12:49 13

2. JojoGo101 (Posts: 211; Member since: 17 Dec 2012)


I like Android cause not all are the same. Take the Lumia 920 and 8X. Same CPU, same GPU. Same OS, no difference. Take the One and S4. One has Sense, one has TouchWiz. one has a thermometer, the other doesn't. One has a Exynos CPU and GPU. One has a Snapdragon CPU and a Adreno 330 GPU... The people want choice.
There's ANDROID, then there's everything else.

posted on 13 Apr 2013, 13:16 4

8. MobileJunkieJr (Posts: 46; Member since: 15 Mar 2013)


Honestly, I like the idea of having multiple OS for me to choose from.
But so far Android is the best there is...there's so much you can do within the ecosystem. And as a result Samsung, HTC, Sony, Motorola and such can differentiate themselves from each other even though they're from the same base. I think Android still has a long journey of success.

posted on 13 Apr 2013, 13:51 1

16. SleepingOz (unregistered)


Beware when you say that Android is the best OS, although it's true, some haters might not like it and call you a fanboy. That's being said, I agree with what you said.
Even if they're all running on the same platform, they offer different experiences. And that's the beauty of Android!

posted on 13 Apr 2013, 14:10 1

18. MobileJunkieJr (Posts: 46; Member since: 15 Mar 2013)


O, to clear the confusion i'll add that i like all OS and OEMs. Best as in what the world also admits...it is capable of being everywhere. WP, iOS and such hold their own status...and they're good, but still Android edges slightly in terms of customizability, implementation and adaptation.

posted on 13 Apr 2013, 12:51 9

3. pokharkarsaga (Posts: 365; Member since: 23 Feb 2012)


if Nokia would have adopted android & done something different like Facebook home while adding smart camera innovations, they definitely would have been on top.Instead they are busy with MS filing antitrust lawsuit.

posted on 13 Apr 2013, 13:12 2

7. NokiaFTW (Posts: 2058; Member since: 24 Oct 2012)


While I believe Android is a great OS and Nokia would have been much profitable with it, I think that competition is required for an OS to get better. Android doesn't really have much competition other than iOS, which is showing its age. If Nokia would have adopted Android, then there really wouldn't be any competition at all and Google would refuse to make Android better just like what MartyK wrote.

posted on 13 Apr 2013, 13:21

12. MobileJunkieJr (Posts: 46; Member since: 15 Mar 2013)


I concur!
Competition is necessary for the growth, not only for Android, but also for every OS it is competiting against.

posted on 13 Apr 2013, 12:53 12

4. MartyK (Posts: 726; Member since: 11 Apr 2012)


The Only Threat to Android is Google, if Google gets lazy or refuse to make AndroidOS better and better then it will cease or lose market just like the OS before and during Android.

posted on 13 Apr 2013, 12:55 6

5. MichaelHeller (Posts: 2693; Member since: 26 May 2011)


Exactly!

posted on 13 Apr 2013, 21:15

35. joey_sfb (Posts: 3261; Member since: 29 Mar 2012)


Notice there no law suit between Amazon and google. Samsung with Google.

Those that benefit from Android source code so far had no compete with each other in an adverse manner which i think is what Google has successfully achieve. In fact they are ally to those that wanted to attack them in court.

Brilliant!

posted on 13 Apr 2013, 12:59 1

6. Troysyx (Posts: 150; Member since: 30 Jul 2012)


Great article!

posted on 13 Apr 2013, 13:20 2

11. gmracer1 (Posts: 646; Member since: 28 Dec 2012)


lmao! There isn't anything that threatens Android! It's nothing but tickles xD

posted on 13 Apr 2013, 14:03

17. TheBitterTruth (unregistered)


Neither to the blinkfeed?

posted on 13 Apr 2013, 15:07 2

21. PhoneArenaUser (Posts: 5498; Member since: 05 Aug 2011)


Of course it is not a threat, it is just piece of bloatware...

posted on 13 Apr 2013, 15:21

24. bojan (Posts: 188; Member since: 06 Oct 2012)


it is treat to google +

posted on 13 Apr 2013, 15:59

25. taz89 (Posts: 2014; Member since: 03 May 2011)


Hey Michael are you sure smart stay etc is built on 4.0 facial recognition or are you just assuming cause the galaxy s which runs gingerbread pre 4.0 has facial recognition too so maybe its not built on face unlock....as for the article completely agree, every time someone builds something on android the nerd techs all jump to the conclusion that its a threat..like you said Google are not stupid and expected android to be modified etc it was the whole point of android.

posted on 13 Apr 2013, 16:53

30. MichaelHeller (Posts: 2693; Member since: 26 May 2011)


Face Unlock is only part of it. Back in Android 4.0 the stock camera also had functionality that would morph your face to show off the facial recognition that Google had built in. That stuff has since been pulled though.

posted on 13 Apr 2013, 18:24

32. jcpwn2004 (Posts: 314; Member since: 18 Jan 2012)


Nothing is a threat to android. The only way android will be in trouble is if they start getting lazy and stop innovating.

edit: just noticed basically the same post by martyK above lol.

posted on 13 Apr 2013, 23:27 1

38. abish1234 (Posts: 51; Member since: 22 Oct 2011)


Lovely article michael :)

posted on 13 Apr 2013, 23:50

40. Shrihari (Posts: 79; Member since: 29 Jan 2013)


firstly people like samsung because of the android in it...everyone hate bada like anything(which itself is a complete copy of android ui)...that java based os is the boring s**t of all time with no useful apps....if samsung abandons android then there existed a company called Samsung..

posted on 13 Apr 2013, 23:57 1

41. DigitalJedi_X2 (banned) (Posts: 346; Member since: 30 Jan 2012)


Good article Michael. You are far and away the only writer here on PA that shows any real kind of sense. But to say that Blackberry is on its way out is totally wrong. If BB is on its way out then so is WP. I constantly see tech journalists saying WP is making strides but where? They're in the single digits market share wise. Almost no one is adopting it. And outside of Nokia, none of the WP devices agree moving any real units. BB moved a million Z10's and it wasn't even a full launch or a full quarter. The Q10 will probably move more. BB10 has far and away more functionality than WP or iOS. And while iOS is a big player in North America, World Wide its no threat. Its basically becoming a niche player. But overall, great article.

posted on 14 Apr 2013, 18:38

48. MichaelHeller (Posts: 2693; Member since: 26 May 2011)


As I said, the biggest movement for WP is in Europe. In a few countries it has or is close to overtaking iOS in market share. WP is growing in the US, it just needs more devices. Nokia isn't enough.

BB is losing share and WP is gaining. Simple as that.

posted on 14 Apr 2013, 01:08

42. psigate (Posts: 9; Member since: 24 Sep 2012)


tried it and i agree not a threat. i uninstalled it a few minutes after using it

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