Facebook Home is a giant yawn and totally misreads the global mobile industry's end-users needs and wants. With that bold statement, I thought that, after a few weeks of hiatus, I would capitalize on this new Facebook announcement yesterday to follow up on my previous february. Because for as much as I was amazed at Graph, my sense is that Facebook Home is such a yawn ... At the current speed of high-school fabs, that might be another enormous disappointment for HTC (remember the beats audio fiasco ?).
Facebook Home Is Lipstick On A Pig
By Haydn Shaughnessy
[Reproduced from Forbes]
Facebook’s introduction of Home yesterday is belated recognition of mobile’s importance. But the mobile sector is innovating fast. What Facebook has done is provide a channel for its social networking services, lipstick on the pig. There’s plenty of money to be made that way, but can Facebook prosper in mobile without doing more, like going deeper into the phone or broader into services that really matter?
Mobile creates innovation in just about every facet of the economy, from the way we work, to our social lives, travel experience, shopping, and reading, and hopefully, some time soon, how we look after ourselves, so of course the world’s largest social network wants to be your mobile home screen.
But mobile strategy at the moment is really about the next 1 billion users not the one billion Facebook already serves. That means it is really not even about smartphones.
What next in advanced markets?
While the headlines belong to Apple’s next generation iPhone (5S) or the Galaxy S4, the pattern of dominance in smartphones is pretty well established. Apple and Samsung both just increased US market share and both make the profits. Every one else struggles. Over the next few years Samsung will eat away at Apple’s market globally through its aggressive retail strategy and by pouring money into tablets but nothing will change substantially.
The US and Europe are more or less a done deal apart from device makers scrapping around the margins. Facebook and Google, meanwhile, skim people’s real time attention with old web services.
The big innovations in smartphones will be in form factor (wearables) and new services (for example services that have a highly predictive, decision support capability so that we can lead better lives – imagine one for example that could tell you your glucose intolerance is growing and you need to see a doctor). Apple and Samsung seem best placed to make these innovations.
What’s next elsewhere?
The companies that want to be number 3 phone maker in the world and want to gravitate to number 2 or 1 are really looking at a new category of phone, one that is not so apps’-dependent and which will be powered from a more natively mobile environment for the fast emerging markets.
Better, faster, more luminous phones are losing relevance. The new smartphone is being born elsewhere.
Even China has strong smartphone penetration. India and Africa do not. The phones they buy in these vast territories of over 2 billion people will have to be highly capable, speedy and data light.
The race is really on to supply this type of phone.
Almost at the same time that Zuckerberg was announcing Home, Google announced it would fork WebKit into Blink, an attempt by Google to produce a better browser engine.
In China, search engine Baidu launched its own mobile browser late last year, and it’s said to be faster and have much better data compression than competitors. Perhaps more important, though, it has the support of carriers like Orange.
Meanwhile Mozilla is about to see the launch of the first Firefox OS phones, and together with Samsung have announced work on a new browser engine, Servo, to take advantage of multi-core processors and next generation mobile technology.
Earlier this year LG bought Palm WebOS from HP. Samsung and Intel are working on the ope source Tizen, an html platform, built on Nokia’s old MeeGo project, and Tizen phones are expected to launch mid-year.
And finally there is Jolla, and the new Finnish post-MeeGo OS Sailfish. Jolla’s plans for Sailfish include “licensing the OS to other device makers and creating customized, branded versions of the software for third parties” as well as creating its own phones.
There’s no reason for any manufacturer to sell phones from these systems into the US and European markets. The “wealthy” markets have reached “peak” mobile. That doesn’t make them irrelevant but it means they have their own particular demands.
But just as The Wintel duopoly is now in tatters, the expectation that Google and Facebook will split future revenues from the work that is going on at Mozilla, Samsung, Intel, Jolla, Baidu, LG and elsewhere is open to challenge.
I’m not convinced that Home, a bunch of apps his talented team have hacked together, is anything like the response a company of Facebook’s szie and influence needs.
Put that another way round, Zuckerberg needs to think more about the responsibilities that go with connecting a billion people and the types of services that they would pay for, not just about how to capture mobile real estate.
Facebook Announces “Home”, A Homescreen Replacement Android App Designed Around People
[Reproduced from TechCrunch]
Facebook today announced a new apps called Facebook Home that replaces your standard Android’s homescreen with an immersive Facebook experience featuring full-screen photos, status updates, and notifications. Facebook also announced a special version of Home will come pre-installed on the new HTC First phone on AT&T.
Home will launches on April 12th in the US, and will be available to users of Android Jelly Bean and Ice Cream Sandwich, but not Gingerbread. The international rollout will come later. It won’t require a forked or modified version of Android, though that’s what the HTC First runs. Facebook will try to make Home available on tablets within a few months, and it’s supposed to be a great experience there. Every month, Facebook will release a Home update to add new features and make it accessible to new devices.
You’ll be able to download Home if you have the most recent Facebook and Facebook Messenger apps on your Android phone. You’ll see a banner alert to download Home from the Google Play store. When you launch it the first time, you can decide to “try once”, or choose “always” to swap in Home for you homescreen from then on.
The Home home screen experience is focused on Cover Feed, which shows a constant stream of full-screen photos and stories you can just sit back and watch. Demo’d by Adam Mosseri, Director of Product, Home also features a new notifications system that lets you scrub through multiple alerts at once. Check out our hands-on video with Facebook Home for a better idea of how it actually works.
Apps are important too, Zuckerberg says, so you can still add apps to your device. One swipe away from the home screen is the launcher for apps. Messaging is at the forefront. Phones are communication devices and we spend all day message, in today’s appcentric world, messaging is treated like another app. Switching between apps is annoying. We want to talk to people, not apps.
When a friend messages you, Home brings up the Facebook Chat Heads feature. It pops up a person’s face and you can tap on their face and bring up a conversation without losing any context of what you’re doing in the app behind. Chat Heads means you don’t have to decide whether to read a message or keep using your current app. It lets communication flow across the phone experience. It’s designed to let you tap in between multiple message threads.
“Today we’re going to finally talk about that Facebook Phone, More accurately, we’re gonna talk about how you can turn your phone into a Facebook Phone” Mark Zuckerberg said to start the event. After noting we spend more than 20% of our mobile time on social apps, Zuckerberg said “We asked ourselves — if we’re already spending this much time on our phones, how can we make it easier? What if they were designed around people first, and you could also just happen to interact with apps?”
Facebook has created the Facebook Home Program to allow a handset makers to optimize the Home experience. Partners include AT&T, Orange, Qualcomm, HTC, Samsung, Huawei, Sony, EE, ZTE, Lenovo, and Alcatel.
HTC and AT&T will release one of the first phones with Facebook Home on it. The handset is called the HTC First. The device’s operating system will be “optimized” to give users unique experiences like notifications for email and calendars on Facebook Home. It will run on an AT&T LTE connection. It will be available on April 12th for $99.99. You’ll be able to pre-order the HTC First starting today at http://www.att.com/facebookhome.
Zuckerberg closed the event by discussing developing markets and Facebook’s international potential. “Only about a third of the world is on the Internet” but in five to ten years legions of feature phone users will be on smartphones. Zuckerberg left a cliffhanger, asking the crowd to think about what that will mean for social networking and the web as a whole.
Overall, Facebook Home will trim down the time it takes you to check Facebook. Considering Zuckerberg said we spend 20% of our mobile time on social and open our phones 100 times a day, those shaved seconds can really add up. Home and the HTC First will mostly appeal to hardcore networkers, but they give us a vision of Facebook’s ideal experience, how it wants us be perpetually connected. It’ll be each user’s decision just how social they want to be.
i blog about the things I love: fitness, hacking work, tech, Experiences and anything holistic.
> I am the Head of Product at Sikka Software.