What Facebook Home means for Google and Apple

Facebook unveils Facebook Home, but how will it impact Google and Apple?

Technology trends and news by Faith Merino
April 4, 2013
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So that whole Facebook phone thing, right? To sum up: not a phone, not an OS—it’s a launcher.

Mark Zuckerberg and pals demo’d the launcher at the much-anticipated event Thursday and showed off all the bells and whistles. You can see notifications and pics from your home screen without even unlocking your phone. And Chat Heads allows you to respond to messages from friends without having to leave the app you’re currently in.

So what does all this mean for Google and Apple?

The whole strategy behind Android is to get consumers to use Google’s products and features, like search, maps, and Gmail, with the end goal being ad consumption. Will Facebook Home interfere with that strategy?

Facebook’s goal is to make your phone all Facebook all the time. Facebook wants to be your Web presence, and—by default—your mobile presence. And now that it’s branching into search and e-commerce, it’s proving that it’s more than just a place to see what your friends are up to. Its aim is to retool the foundation of the Web to be inherently social.

This could be problematic for Google. Granted, there are lots of things you can do via Google that you’ll never be able to do through Facebook, since we’re not all friends with our bosses and colleagues on Facebook. Nevertheless, if everyone is consuming content through Facebook, they’re not consuming content through Google.

But there’s a flip side to this. Facebook Home gives Android an advantage over iOS, which will probably never, ever, ever have Facebook Home. Ever.

As Zuckerberg told a reporter at the event, any kind of iPhone integration will have to be done through a collaboration with Apple. And we all know how likely that is.

“Apple is a very controlled ecosystem,” said Zuckerberg. “Fundamentally, Android is just a more open  on ecosystem.”

Although studies show few iPhone users later convert to Android, Facebook Home might be enough to sway the new-to-smartphones user—like tweens and teens—over to Android.

Maybe. More and more teens have been ditching Facebook for newer, edgier apps, like Instagram and Snapchat. Facebook admitted to the problem itself in a recent report. Faceboom Home could be the perfect remedy for the problem of bailing teens, since more teens use Android over iPhone and other phones, Facebook Home could lure them back to the fold.

Additionally, a recent study from IDC shows that 70% of smartphone owners access Facebook from their phones, making it the third most commonly used function behind accessing the Web and email. So this could prove to be a beneficial symbiosis for Android as well. If people are already accessing Facebook in high numbers, even more people are going to be drawn to Android for Facebook Home.

In closing: I wish Apple weren’t such a buzz kill.  


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