We were all waiting for the news event of year, and to be honest, we were expecting something a little more exciting than an app. But Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Facebook obviously thought that a press event was the ideal place to showcase his new mobile application.
He unveiled the Facebook ‘home’ app at the company’s Silicon Valley HQ yesterday, and teased the waiting media by beginning his speech with an opening statement about Facebook phones: ‘Today we’re finally here to talk about the Facebook phone,’ said Mark Zuckerberg at the announcement at the firm’s Silicon Valley HQ.
‘Or more accurately, we are going to talk about how you can turn your Android phone into a great social phone.’
Facebook Home App
‘We are not building a phone and we are not building an operating system but we are are building something that is a whole lot deeper than an ordinary app.
‘We wanted to flip things around so our phones were designed around people and not apps.
‘How many times have you pulled out a phone and looked into different apps to see what’s going on.
‘We want to bring all this content to the front.’
The new home app can turn any phone that runs Google’s Android software into a ‘Facebook phone’. You can download the free software to your handsets, and it will take over the homescreen and menu and show updates without you having to launch the Facebook app.
It will be preloaded onto certain new handsets, such as the HTC First, which is available from April 12th, which coincidently is when the free home app will also launch.
Zuckerberg says the reason the home app was designed so that users could have an experience on Android phones that they can’t have on others and it was created with the knowledge that there are a growing number of users who access Facebook via a mobile device. He said: ‘We’re really proud of Home app, we think this is the best version of Facebook there is.’
It is estimated that of around 1.06billion monthly Facebook users, 680million log in to Facebook using a mobile device.
The home app features a revamp of Facebook’s chat app which is now called ‘Chatheads’ and shows your friend’s head in the corner of the screen when you get a new message from them.
‘They’re a way you can chat to your friends no matter what you’re doing,’ said Facebook’s Adam Mosseri.
However, industry experts think that it could be a way for Facebook to show users more adverts.
Jan Dawson, chief telecoms analyst at Ovum, said: ‘Any broadening of Facebook’s appeal on mobile devices would have to be broad-based, and the Android launcher approach allows it to target a huge installed base of hundreds of millions of Android users, which will be a large chunk of Facebook’s total user base of more than a billion people.
‘To users, the sell here will be making it easier to share information, photos and so on with friends.
‘But to Facebook, this is about becoming more deeply embedded in the operating system on mobile devices, and creating a broader platform.
‘Since Facebook doesn’t make an operating system for mobile devices, this is the next best thing. It will allow Facebook to track more of a user’s behaviour on devices, and present more opportunities to serve up advertising, which is Facebook’s main business model.
‘And that presents the biggest obstacle to success for this experiment: Facebook’s objectives and users are once again in conflict.
‘Users don’t want more advertising or tracking, and Facebook wants to do more of both.’
And the app will not be available on an Apple products, in particular, the iPhone and the iPad.