Facebook Thursday unveiled the closest thing to a Facebook phone, with Home. Select Android devices will have access to Home starting April 12, and it will later become available to more users. This news was met with curiosity, excitement, and a little bit of fear, knowing that Facebook would go from being a part of the phone to being a part of the entire mobile experience.
Here’s what other people have said about Facebook Home:
Robin Grant, global managing director, We Are Social:
As with its recent News Feed announcement, (Facebook Co-Founder and CEO Mark) Zuckerberg wasn’t specific about how brands and advertising would be affected, but the highly filtered Cover Feed could offer an opportunity for News Feed advertising at a premium over Facebook’s existing offering.
But more than that obvious development, Facebook Home could be the holy grail of mobile advertising. Aside from mobile operators, no other company is able to keep track of a consumer’s location at all times – which, privacy settings permitting, Facebook could now do with Home.
And the new in-build Chat Heads and notifications features provide a potential mechanism to allow location-based ads to appear in a relatively unobtrusive way – something the mobile operators don’t have. If Facebook can use this to deliver location-relevant and timely commercial messages to consumers, it will effectively give Facebook a license to print money – its long-sought-after equivalent of Google’s AdWords.
Wells Fargo’s Jason Maynard:
We see Home as a new chapter in Facebook’s evolution into a mobile-first company. Zuckerberg had previously downplayed the possibility that Facebook would manufacture its own phone, and now we understand some of his thinking. With Home, we see an approach that is neither device nor operating system. We like the logic of a software-driven strategy rather than a device approach. In many ways (device-independent software, monthly feature push, free cloud download), Home resembles a PaaS (platform as a service) personalization tool more than mobile app. In our view, this approach is likely to appeal to many of Facebook’s 1 billion-plus members, while avoiding device/platform lock-in.
Merrill Lynch’s Justin Post:
Facebook Home will likely be offered as a pre-installed operating system/application to other Android phone manufacturers, which will be closely watching adoption and sales of the Facebook HTC phone to determine whether to adopt Home. While the Home app is not available on Apple iOS for the iPhone and iPad, if adoption for takes off, it is possible that Apple would consider partnering with Facebook, but we see a partnership as unlikely. Google could come out with a competing product that better features search and its apps on Android phones, or make some tweaks to Android that limit an app takeover of the home screen.
With mobile use continuously on the rise and 20 percent of our mobile time currently spent on Facebook, the announcement of Facebook Home is a significant step in the execution of Facebook’s mobile strategy. As the Home name suggests, Facebook will effectively become the home screen for mobile users who install the application or purchase a pre-configured Facebook Home phone from cell carriers, such as the HTC First on AT&T.
Facebook Home makes the mobile experience more engaging and personally relevant from the moment the user turns on the phone. This is something Facebook has the unique capability to provide, given its massive scale and the volume of status updates from users.
Frank X. Shaw, vice president of corporate communications, Microsoft:
I tuned into the coverage of the Facebook Home event yesterday and actually had to check my calendar a few times.
Not to see if it was still April Fools Day, but to see if it was somehow still 2011.
Because the content of the presentation was remarkably similar to the launch event we did for Windows Phone two years ago.
When we sat down with a blank sheet of paper and designed Windows Phone, we put three words on the wall to guide the team: “Put People First.”
Those three words were chosen around a pretty powerful but simple insight: People are more important than apps, so phones should be designed around you and the people you care about, not the apps you might use to reach them.
Om Malik, GigaOM:
The new Home app/UX (user interface)/quasi-OS (operating system) is deeply integrated into the Android environment. It takes an effort to shut it down, because Home’s whole premise is to be always on and be the dashboard to your social world. It wants to be the start button for apps that are on your Android device, which, in turn, will give Facebook a deep insight on what is popular. And of course, it can build an app that mimics the functionality of that popular, fast-growing mobile app. I have seen it done before, both on other platforms and on Facebook.
But there is a bigger worry. The phone’s GPS (global positioning system) can send constant information back to the Facebook servers, telling it your whereabouts at any time.
Readers: What was your reaction to Facebook Home?
Image courtesy of Facebook.