Facebook Home expanding to more devices

HTC One and Samsung Galaxy S4 users now have access to the interface, but ratings are still slipping

Technology trends and news by Steven Loeb
May 10, 2013
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When Facebook Home passed the 500,000 installs number on Google Play roughly a week after its release, it was seen, by some, as a sign that the interface was not living up to expectation. I mean, Instagram, had passed one million Android users in a single day, so why couldn't Home match that?

There are a number of reasons that I have pointed to before why the comparison between Home and other apps is unfair, including that Home is a completely different type of app.

But a big factor, and one that Facebook itself pointed to as the reason for the slow growth, was that it was only available on a limited number of phones: the Samsung Galaxy S III, Samsung Galaxy Note II, HTC One X, HTC One X+ and, of course, the HTC First, which comes with Home pre-installed.

Now Facebook is finally starting to expand the circle, at least a little bit, by adding two new phones with Home capabilities: the HTC One, as well as unofficial support for the Samsung Galaxy S4, it was reported by Android Central late Thursday.

While expanded device support can't hurt Home, there are still more omnious signs that the interface is doomed to failure.

After taking five days to get to half a million downloads, Facebook announced Thursday that it was nearing one million downloads a month after Home first became available on May 12th. That means it has taken almost another three weeks to double the amount of downloads it had in less than a week.

Most likey that is because of anemic word of mouth. Home's rating on Google Play has been slipping since its premiere.

The day after it was released, it had an average rating of 2.5 stars, and 1,028 one star reviews out of 2,343 total, around 44%. By the 16th, it had a rating of 2.3, with 2,012 one star reviews out of 4,221 total, over 47%. Toward the end of April, it had 7,201 one star ratings out of a total of 13,655, or 52%.

As of Friday, the app has 16,145 ratings for an average of 2 stars, and 8,519 one star reviews, just under 53%. Translation: reviews for Home are getting worse, not better.

And then there is this: AT&T, which was selling the HTC First phone for $99.99 has dropped the price all the way down to 99 cents. Though no numbers are yet available, that is a pretty ominous sign.

Still, Facebook, and Mark Zuckerberg in particular, do not seem worried. Zuckerberg even defended Home's slow growth in a conference call following the release of the company's earnings report earlier this month.

"The product is still very early, and this is just the first release of a long journey," Zuckerberg said.

"We haven't really started encouraging people to install it from within our app yet, and it is only available on a few phones. Over the next few months we hope to push it out much more broadly, and get it in the hands of a lot more people."

Right now, it looks like it might be a while before the world truly embraces Home.

We have reached out to Facebook to confirm the expansion, and we will update if we hear anything more. 

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