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Facebook Home, its subtle impact and what it means to Facebook

Posted: , by Maxwell R.

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Facebook Home, its subtle impact and what it means to Facebook
No doubt that if you are a user of Facebook in any capacity, you have experienced the phenomenon of “Facebook fatigue.” The symptoms manifest themselves in various ways, but it generally means you stop using the social network for a while or just do not participate in the activities your friends are yammering on about in the news feed.

Since about half of the traffic feeding in and out of Facebook is mobile, the fatigue is just as prevalent, especially if all you get for a while are invitations to play some game or add a birthday or join in some event 3,000 miles away. Notifications get cleared with a “meh” and then it is on to other things.

Credit where credit is due

Regardless of your initial impressions of Home, it is hard to dispute that Facebook did things right the first go around of Home. The first reason is obvious, Facebook did not get into the manufacturing business. Not only is the notion not even a twinkle in Zuckerberg’s eye, “service first” (or only) companies do not have a heavy talent pool to delve into the depths of the logistics involved in manufacturing and supply chain management. Even with Google, we have not really seen the first fruits of products since its acquisition of Motorola (the RAZR series are all clearly products of “work in progress” when the merger closed last May). The Nexus line have all been produced by established manufacturers and if anything, Google’s own services were challenged to the hilt in handling demand for the latest Nexus 4.

Mark Zuckerberg emphasized the role the Facebook plays in many of our daily lives

Mark Zuckerberg emphasized the role the Facebook plays in many of our daily lives

Facebook also did it right by not trying to build a new operating system. This needs little explanation and just about everyone understands why Android was the chosen platform to get things done. Not only is the open source nature of Android a natural choice from a design standpoint, its current dominance in the global market will eventually provide the highest potential for success and market penetration. Facebook was also wise in not “forking” Android and making a Facebook phone (whether they made it or not) akin to Amazon’s Kindle Fire tablets. The challenges of keeping things up to date and pursuing carrier testing would have put Facebook’s efforts in areas the company does not want to go.

Finally, while Facebook Home is not packed with every function that the stand-alone Facebook application has, the simplicity behind the immersive experience is “big
enough” to generate interest in the application.

Will Facebook Home make a difference in the near term?

This answer is fairly obvious, no. However that appears to be by design. The initial rollout will be in the United States only. Given that about half of the US smartphone user base is on Android, that gives a more than sufficient user pool for a first run. Since Home will only work on newer Android devices, HTC One, One X, One X+, HTC First, Samsung Galacy SIII, S4 and Note II, the final “eligible” pool of users will be notably smaller, but still many millions-of-users big.

Even though Facebook Home will not appeal to everyone, the company again did it right to deploy it and see how things will work in its own back yard. As there will be app updates every month, that puts Facebook in position to see how updates and enhancements are accepted within the large “control group.”

All may not be rosy however

While the final product of Facebook Home is positioned for success, there are a few gnawing issues that are yet to be addressed. The first is data usage. How much data does Home use to provide that fine assortment of content on a continuous basis? If it cuts through data like Paula Deen cuts through butter, then users will not live too long with Home if they cannot afford a data plan to accommodate it. Then there is battery life, a valid concern with any Android device already, will Home drink the power supply dry in order to keep the immersion experience up-to-date? We suspect this may not be as big of an issue. During the press event, HTC and AT&T were pretty explicit about battery life with the HTC First. Given its middle-of-the-road specifications, and 2,000mAh battery, you would expect decent battery life, and the specifications listed on AT&T’s website offer 14 hours of talk time and 18 days of standby time. That is not bad all things considered. Based on that, it would be reasonable to expect that Facebook Home will not obliterate your battery or data plan.

Then there may be some new ways to look at privacy concerns.  Facebook has managed to keep itself from being under conspicuous regulator scrutiny, but the company does seem to update privacy policies often, and quietly.  Will Home give Facebook more of that insight to the inner thinking of your mind or will it be the same game as found with users on the traditional apps and website?  As far as we can tell, this app will evolve enough to enable ads to be pushed to Cover Flow that are relevant to your interests which arguably puts Home in the same arena as Google.  Right now, we do not know, however, we expect that folks will dissect Home to see what data is gathered and reported back to servers.  Until then we have no reason to expect that this will actually do more than what Facebook itself already does. 

When Home will be available for use on other top-end hardware, will the HTC First flourish or flounder?

When Home will be available for use on other top-end hardware, will the HTC First flourish or flounder?

What about the HTC First exclusivity on AT&T? Arguably that would limit the exposure that Facebook ultimately wants for Home and the rest of Facebook for that matter. HTC is a hungry member of this trio. The company builds solid hardware but has been losing traction with its product line for a while. The Taiwan based manufacturer was wise not to let its flagship HTC One fall into any exclusivity agreements. That in itself lessens the sting when it comes to the HTC First, but not totally. It is feasible to expect that customers on other carriers would be interested in such a device, but again, the HTC First is more about HTC than it is Facebook. The HTC First embeds Home at a system level, enabling some notifications that will not be seen on other devices that use the app.  There is not much that differentiates the device, although we can tell you that it is well made.

However, AT&T’s last attempts with previous “Facebook” phones, all made by HTC were not successful, so why continue? We can only surmise that AT&T is simply willing to take the risk. It may prove to be the better option for HTC too, since trying to launch this device with Verizon poses its own challenges, like Big Red’s excruciating process to approve OS and OEM updates.

Longer term, Home will make an impact

We have no doubt that Home will find a dedicated user base in every market it is released. We believe however that the “money” for Facebook (and HTC for that matter) will be in the emerging markets. Facebook is already offering incentives and data discounts to encourage subscribers to use Facebook Messenger in fourteen countries, some still developing, and others more established.

By making those moves early in countries that are still expanding their networks and customer base, Facebook becomes an enabling communication product that will be sought after. That is where we think Home’s biggest potential lies, India, Indonesia and other parts of the Pacific Rim and then again in established European countries like Italy, Ireland and Portugal. Not surprisingly, that poses an opportunity for HTC as well if the First does not suffer any serious problems after its debut in the US.

So there it is, Facebook Home will certainly be a far reaching product, but its impact is far more subtle in the near-term. If the updates and innovation enhance the experience then it poses the obvious benefits to Facebook and presents some interesting challenges to Google and other platforms as well.

7 Comments
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posted on 06 Apr 2013, 20:43 2

1. ddurand (Posts: 7; Member since: 13 Apr 2012)


I dont see this taking off the way they expect it to.

posted on 06 Apr 2013, 23:01 2

2. AamirSIII (banned) (Posts: 187; Member since: 04 Oct 2012)


it is so ironic to see this facebook become so important in people's life all around the world! i personally have an account but thats just for studies and thats it. TBH i dont trust this new era of so called "CLOUD COMPUTING" with all these sites like Facebook, google +, dropbox, to name few. i once had my yahoo account compromised. after that i dont trust these kinda of sites at all. i would prefer offline data than uploading to these untrusted sites even if they give me free space. people should understand it by now why do they give us free spaces? they definitely get a lot of money even after giving free space to millions of people

posted on 06 Apr 2013, 23:54 1

3. Maxwell.R (Posts: 130; Member since: 20 Sep 2012)


Such solutions are available to avoid the "free" services, but they are an expression of money as well. You can find hosted Exchange email from thousands of vendors around the world, no ads, no data mining, etc, but generally cost between $125 and $300 per year (or more) depending on what you are using. The same can be accomplished with cloud storage, but again, it is an expression of "how much for how much?"

posted on 07 Apr 2013, 01:14

4. AamirSIII (banned) (Posts: 187; Member since: 04 Oct 2012)


u r right. but i was just talking about facebook, twitter, google +, instagram and many services of such where people can upload their personal stuff. i know there are privacy settings available but people should consider that they are giving away their privacy to these huge companies anyways! even if one pays for the encrypted and extreme security of these services these are still vulnerable to great dangers online!

i personally dont trust these so called "SOCIAL" sites... i feel like these sites have actually increased the distances b/w people. i have almost never used facebook and im very good without it!

but again, thats just me :D

posted on 07 Apr 2013, 03:25 3

5. kabhijeet.16 (Posts: 548; Member since: 05 Dec 2012)


Facebook home is an amazing app. Its fast, fluid, with various features. I dont understand how they created something so amazing when they couldn't even create a good facebook standalone app

posted on 08 Apr 2013, 12:13

7. Stuntman (Posts: 669; Member since: 01 Aug 2011)


Have you seen it work in landscape mode yet? Right now, the FB app sucks in landscape, especially when using a tablet.

posted on 07 Apr 2013, 13:45 2

6. MyJobSux (Posts: 71; Member since: 01 Apr 2012)


I could care less. Ever been anywhere and there was that one person that just kept talking about everything and wouldnt shut up? Its annoying, well, Facebook is like that but you dont have to actually listen in unless you want to. So whats so bad about it? If that person is a family member or friend that announces personal info about you such as 'Rob and his family will be visiting us for the whole weekend, cant wait!'. You didnt tell anyone your going to be out of town but that idiot family member did. Social networking is dangerous, stupid and gives away too much becuase people are inherintly stupid loud mouths that gab too much as it is. The last thing they need is a much broader platform to broadcast on.

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