In the age of the digital soapbox, everyone seems to have a different opinion from neighbor and friend. Here’s the latest. The new Facebook Home is good for Facebook, bad for Google and bad for Apple. Unless it’s not. Then it might be good for Google and good for Apple. You see, it depends.
It’s Good (or, it’s not)
Facebook Home is the latest and greatest addition to Android smartphones, but it’s a bit difficult to describe. It mashes Facebook components together in one screen on Android smartphones. Specifically, the home screen.
That means you’re never more than a glance away from Facebook; just a touch away from wall posts, chatting, photos, and whatever else Facebook does to reduce human productivity in a vain attempt to help us communicate all the time, everywhere.
Facebook Home will show up first on a new HTC Android-based smartphone, but a version of Home will also be available for some newer Android smartphones.
Think of what would happen on your iPhone if the lockscreen and background photo became a collage of Facebook functionality, Widget-like functionality which displays your friend’s posts, notifications, calls, Instagram likes, chats, messages, and everything else into a quick and easy screen mashup.
The Whole Truth
Here’s what’s really happening. Facebook Home resides on smartphones running Google’s Android OS. Facebook makes money from advertising and data collection and sales from all those eyeballs on Facebook all day. Sound familiar? Google makes money by advertising (and data collection and sales) from all those eyeballs on Android-based smartphones.
Uh oh. It’s a clash of the Titans. Facebook Home has slipped in between your eyeballs and Google’s attempts to display their advertising and harvest information about you.
Google’s spin is that Facebook Home proves Android is open. Maybe so, but it’s not a good thing for Google’s desire to wring revenue and profits from your eyeballs.
Mike Elgan shows How Facebook Home Screws Apple because Apple promotes Facebook over Google Plus, and Facebook Home will somehow entice Apple’s iPhone users to switch to Android smartphones. Or, something.
Facebook Home with its “Cover Feed” was created to bring the “UI model” into the present day, rather than being stuck in the past like the iPhone is.
And it was built with major input from engineers poached from Apple.
Facebook is playing Apple, big time.
Maybe so, but that kind of playing takes place all the time between major technology companies, so it’s not the first time, and won’t be the last.
Apple Is Doomed
If all one billion of Facebook’s users switch to Android smartphones running Facebook Home, Apple is in trouble. There’s nothing to indicate that a mass exodus from Apple to Android is in the making. And, like Twitter, Facebook has a much larger user base which isn’t as active as they want advertisers and investors to believe.
And, from what I can see, the Widgetized home screen that combines or mashes together a bunch of live functionality on today’s smartphones hasn’t exactly caught fire, but it has some unique user benefits which Apple is ignoring. Apple could easily combat Facebook Home with a live Widgetized lock screen.
But Oliver Haslam says Widgets Just Ain’t Cool. Personally, I like the live tiles in Windows Phone, and fully expect to have Apple introduce something similar in iOS 7 later this year. Widgets are nothing more than mini-apps that update information on the fly while depleting your battery literally as you watch.
As batteries improve, and less power hungry CPUs, and GPUs emerge, Apple will do the obvious, and allow for a live Widget area which app developers will love to exploit, battery life be damned. That means that Facebook Home is doomed, right? Nope. Ask yourself, would Facebook want to have Widgets or live tiles for iOS users? In a heartbeat.
Don’t bother to tell me that Notification Center is just as good as live, updating Widgets. It’s useful, but not the same thing. Notification Center is nothing more than a laundry list of data, and certainly far from integrated or visually appealing or entertaining. It’s just a bolted on list.
The real issue here is more about fragmentation of the smartphone interface, whereby, with user customizable components such as Facebook Home, Google gets locked out of yet another segment of the customer base’s highly valued eyeballs (but open is winning). Apple will simply create a Widget environment which is more controlled, more disciplined, and, more beneficial to the user than the advertiser (remember, with Google and Facebook, you’re the product, not the customer).