I assume as per now most Android owners who know about it have officially downloaded or side loaded Facebook home onto their Android phones. One thing is for sure, it’s a beautiful experience which is free and it will sit on top of your Samsung touch wiz or HTC sense UI experience anytime at any day. You don’t need to buy a new phone to enjoy this experience, with just a click or two you can enjoy the new Facebook experience and that to me is like the secret weapon it’s like the Trojan horse or some kind or holy grail for Facebook, assuming you want this on your phone in the first place.
Facebook has done some really amazing work in terms of UI and user experience and idea far better than stock Android the difference is that the goal is totally different. I personally don’t see myself using home for a long time as my skin but I know so many people who would kill just to have this experience. One this is for sure that this will not convert any one to Facebook it’s basically for the existing Facebook users. I think most will try it out and latter uninstall it, as there is totally no risk on Facebook’s part or on the part of the consumers as there is an easy opt in opt out option.
I think the popularity of Facebook home will be a word of mouth thing, I think this is stealth marketing it will be so good to Facebook users who try it out and they are hardcore Facebook users. They will tend to stick to it because they know that even if the upgrade to a new Android phone they will be sure that it will look and feel the same way.
I have to admit initially I thought Facebook was going to release an actual Facebook phone but it seems they were very smart with their strategy and am sure I am not the only one that was taken by surprise. Let’s take a look at some of the alternatives they could have done:
- They could have come out with their very own OS, an idea which would be too risky considering the fact that they don’t have an ecosystem mature enough.
- They could have come up with a UI that basically forks Android like Amazon, which they never did.
Facebook instead decided to go for a Launcher an idea which I many describe as smart, which blows you away the first time you use it especially for a first version product. One thing I have been happy about is that Facebook is promising monthly updates and I have a feeling that they are actually going to hold to it cause this is such a big deal to them. If you take a look at the difference between how many impressions they get at each individual status updates now versus with Facebook home. If you watched the Keynote the Facebook CEO mentioned that the average person turns their phone on and just looks at it 100 times a day, which is certainly the case for me and for anybody who is into smartphones. But if you can take those 100 opportunities and covert those into just looking people’s status updates casually it will me more of a good pass of time than starting at a screen full of only icons. I actually find this concept very interesting and unique and seldom seen in the industry.
When I started using Facebook home I kind of really got tired of my friends as I was up-to-date and liking each and every comment my friends post, but the point I was initially missing and was the fact that it kept me engaged.
The good and bad
For the deep Facebook fans with the right devices they will love the new Facebook experience. The UI its self is not in your face so much, it’s pretty genuine (for lack of a better word), once you get the idea behind it, I think it’s easy to get the hang of what you are doing. For example you need to know that you have to double tap in order to like something, or long press to see the whole picture. I really liked the implementation of the Facebook notifications but don’t get me wrong not everyone is going to love it as some prefer the status bar as implemented by Google in Android.
On the down side it has to be made clear that on the HTC First there is a deeper Facebook home integration than the downloaded version from the Market place. The difference is that for the HTC First you can get all kinds on notifications on the Facebook home screen including emails, alarms, etc while for the downloaded version you only get the Facebook notifications. Other cons about the Facebook home experience include that fact that you don’t have the option of putting widgets or folders on your lockscreen on the launcher. But if we come down to reality the average user on a smartphone may have 6 to 10 apps installed and they don’t necessarily have a shortcut on their screen for that. I observed many people’s smartphone trends and I rarely see people use folders unlike power users like us. We all know that Apple is been known to be liked for the simplicity of its user experience and I think Facebook is kind of stealing that page. They are technically beating both Apple and Google at their own game with this, that’s why Apple will never allow Facebook home experience on their platform.
Another big con of Facebook home is the amount of data that your phone is using. So let me illustrate, I played with my phone with Facebook phone for 4 days. May be before I start perhaps I have to mention that within Facebook home you have the option of going high, medium or low data usage. This is because if you have a limited data plan you don’t have to use all of it definitely and so Facebook will control how many status updates are coming in and how often it’s refreshing, which is a cool feature. Now with that said I was on the high setting throughout and I ended up using roughly 80 MB of data within in four days. So if you expand that out to a full month, which is about 600MB per month, so if you have a 1GB plan that’s like more than half of your data used on Facebook’s cover feed. You definitely want to have an unlimited data bundle if you are a real Facebook die hard. And for this app to be popular in Africa this should be addressed.
The bulk of the Facebook demographic use mid range smartphones and such phones are not yet officially supported by Facebook’s new launcher. We have already seen people running Facebook home on phones that are not officially supported. If you look at stock Android, Samsung’s Touchwiz or HTC’s sense, all these user interfaces are really designed for people who are power users, there is a million tweaks, a million settings its gone so bad that even the Samsung Galaxy S4 has a grid a grid array version of the quick settings. When the average user sees all that they will mesmerized, wondering what all those settings all do. So what Facebook is doing is that they are getting rid of all that clutter and serving the average phone user.
In the next editorial (Part II) find out if there is potential for Facebook home in mobile, If Google cares about Facebook home and lastly Facebook’s Plans for mobile domination.Hits:2685