Facebook Home – The Best Mobile Experience or Just an Upgrade?

Facebook Home Announcement with HTC First and AT&T 4G LTE

The highly anticipated Facebook phone, which as it turns out, is not really a phone after all, has been dubbed Facebook Home and was announce this past Thursday, 4 April 2013.

The newly announced Facebook Home is touted by Mark Zuckerburg as turning Android phones into a “great, simple, social device.” Learn more by reading on or visiting the official Facebook Home page.

Facebook Home Announcement Mark Zuckerburg

Mark Zukerburg introducing Facebook Home (see video of Facebook Home press conference below).

Mark reiterates that our the Facebook mission is “give the people the power to share and make the world more open and connected.

 

Facebook Home – Press Conference Video

Video of Full Facebook Home Press Conference – 4 Apr 2013 

Mobile Users Spend Most of their Time on Social … Well Yeah!

mobile apps by percentage of time spent

Mobile Apps by Percentage of Time Spent, US, Feb 2013 – Data from comScore

 Mark uses the data from comScore to make the point that we spend most of our mobile time on social activities and that no other categories come close. “We spend our lives sharing and connecting.

 

So we asked ourselves if we are all spending so much time on our phones interacting with people, then how can we make this easier? What if we transformed the mobile experience of one organized around apps, 

mobile experience organized by apps

to a mobile experienced organized around people,

mobile experience organized by people

and with a quick path to get the apps when we need them?

 What Would it Feel Like if Our Phones Were Designed Around People, Not Apps?

According to Mark, it would feel really different as computers have been designed around tasks and applications for more than 30 years, dating back to Windows 1.0 (side note: interesting that Mark doesn’t cite the Mac which many die hard Mac fans claim was ripped off by Windows 1.0).

user interfaces organized around applications Examples of User Interfaces Designed Around Tasks and Applications 

A New Non-task-based Use Case for Smartphones is Emerging

Mark introduces an emerging smartphone use case that is not task or application driven. Users today are checking their smartphones in moments between meetings, at the line in the store, traveling on an airplane, when the user is interested in what is going on in their social sphere.

new non task based use case for smartphone useNew Non-task-based use case for smartphones is emerging. A socially-driven experience.

Mark positioned Facebook Home as an immersive, all encompassing application for Android devices, a wrap-around app utlizing Andriod openness to transform the users experience for those 100 times a day that smartphone users interact with their devices. This is what Mark refers to as “just being human.

Mark’s premise is “why should the user experience be to have to open individual apps just to find out what is gonig on in the world they care about?

Mark states that Facebook Home is designed to shift the existing user experience paradigm away from interfaces organized around apps and towards interfaces organized around people.

Market Driven User Interface Paradigm Shift Towards Social

That is non-task oriented use case is not driven by the need to get something done, but the desire to stay connected. Mark uses pior versions of Facebook and the evolution of Facebook to emphasize the paradigm shift.

facebook interface paradigm shift

Facebook interface paradigm shift example – a social, content-driven user experience

 

Facebook Home Distribution Strategy

Mark shares his vision for a broad distribution strategy to get Facebook Home on devices and into as many hands as possible.

facebook home broad device support

Goal is provide broad-based smartphone market support for Facebook Home

 Mark’s positioning of the choice of Android application for Facebook Home was based on the Android device’s broad global market share and openness of the Android platform which offered the best option to develop a socially-driven mobile user experience.

To be clear, Mark indicated that Facebook Home was not a phone nor was it an operating system but rather an immersive application leveraging the Android platform. His reasoning was that if Facebook built a successful phone (hardware, device) in terms of market adoption, 20 million could be considered successful, while only being able to reach 2% of the over 1 billion Facebook users.

Where Does Facebook Home Fit in the Mobile Apps Stack?

By providing Facebook Home on an Android platform, Facebook has the ability to offer support for a much broader segment of the smartphone market while reaching a much higher percentage of the mobile Facebook user population. The figure below depicts exactly where Facebook Home fits in the Andriod application stack.

apps integration OS phone

Facebook Home Integrations with Mobile Apps, the Phone OS (Operating System)

Mark indicated that it’s Google’s commitment to the openness of Android platform that allows for the deep integration required for the new user experience to be provided by Facebook Home.

A New Category of User Experiences – the Home Screen of your Phone

Mark refers to the home screen as the soul of your phone which he claims that users look at, on average, 100 times a day. “It sets the tone of your whole experience and the feel should be deeply personal.

 

During the press conference, Mark showcased an animated storyboard of Facebook Home along with some use cases.

Facebook Home Cover Feed, Notifications and App Launcher Demo

About 13 minutes into the press conference, Mark hands off the stage for a live demonstration of the Facebook Home by Adam Mosseri, Director of Facebook Product.

Adman Mosseri Facebook Director of Product

Live Facebook Home Demo by Adam Mosseri, Facebook Director of Product

The Facebook Home live demo by Adam showed the real-life application of many of the use cases described by Mark in his storyboard. The scripted demo gave the audience a good feel of how Facebook Home would be used by Android smartphone users.

The demonstration provided by Adam covered Facebook Home:

  • Cover feed,
  • Notifications and
  • App launcher.

Demonstration of Facebook Home Messaging and Chat Heads

Joey Flynn, Facebook Director of Product, came out next to provide a more detailed description and demonstration of the Facebook Home Messaging and Chat Heads. 

Joey Flynn Facebook Director of Product Chat Head demo

 Joey Flynn –  Demo of Facebook Home Messaging, Chat Head

The Facebook Home demo provided by Joey covered Messaging and how that integrates with the use of applications on Facebook Home. Joey’s product demo also covered the concept of the Facebook Home Chat Heads and what they mean in the context of a rich, immersive, more social user experience.

 

How Does Somebody Install Facebook Home?

Corey Ondrejka, Facebook Vice President, Engineering, showed the mechanics of how to obtain and install Facebook Home on your Android phone, both in a mode of trying out just once and another mode for permanent installation.

Corey Ondrejka Facebook Vice President Engineering install Facebook HomeCorey Ondrejka, Demonstrating How to Obtain and Install Facebook Home

Although Facebook won’t be released until 12 April 2013, supported on a limited number of android devices, the installation process demonstrated by Corey at the press conference showed how easy it will be for current Android users with the latest release Facebook to upgrade to Facebook Home.

 

Corey positione Facebook Home as the next step in the evolution of Facebook mobile ( the lease for android users) and what he refers to is not only mobile first but mobile best.

Facebook Home Promo Video

Mark was beaming when he introduced the Facebook Home promo video showcased three quarters of the way through the carefully choreographed press conference. The promo video is a 60 second spot, which is imaginative, entertaining and will no doubt resonate with a large % of their early adopter target market. You can find this promo video integrated into the press conference video above and can be seen running between 28:05 – 29:05)

facebook home promo

The promo depicting a traveler on a plane prior to takeoff, demonstrating a high level of engagement (based on active imagination) with the Facebook Home on their phone while waiting for others to board the plane,  leading to a rich experience in those short moments of white space that make up our lives.

 

Official Facebook Home – Promo Video

The following official Facebook Home Promo video below, which is embedded on the official Facebook Home webapge, differs from the promo video showcased at the press conference, maybe based on feedback from the attendees and ad critics.

Initial Phones Supported by Facebook Home

Facebook Home will be available for download from the Google Play store beginning April 12th and will include support for the following Android devices:

facebook home first devices supported

  • HTC One (future)
  • HTC One X, HTC One X+,
  • Samsung GALAXYS III, 
  • Samsung GALAXY S4 (Future)
  • Samsung GALAXY Note II

Facebook Home Program

There are two ways that users can get Facebook Home:

  1. Download Facebook Home to your Android device
  2. Purchase a phone with Facebook Home preloaded
In support of the second option, Facebook has created the Facebook Home Programs which include a set of quality guidelines to help ensure that the Facebook Home user experience is as positive as possible.

facebook home programFacebook Home Program for Smartphone Device Manufactures 

The Facebook Home Program and the smartphones preloaded with Facebook Home as a result, enable those who purchase one of these preloaded phones to share right out of the box. It will be interesting to see how much of a piece of the existing Apple market share will be shifted to Android based on the Facebook Home Program.

Facebook Home Supply Chain Adoption

Even before Facebook Home was announced, a number of device manufacturers and mobile network service providers had signed up for the Facebook Home Program to accelerate it’s availability and adoption while driving smartphone sales for phones that are optimized to support it.

Facebook Home Program participantsFacebook Home Program – Smartphone Manufacturers and Mobile Service Providers

 If you look at some of the program participants, one can’t help but wonder what will be the Apple iOS response to this market development. Two particular partners that Mark focused on for this Facebook press conference include HTC and AT&T Mobility, with the leadership of both invited to participate and present at the Facebook Home announcement.

Pete Chou – HTC CEO – Introducing the HTC First

Peter Chou HTC CEO HTC FirstPete Chou – HTC CEO – Introducing the HTC First

Pete introduced the HTC First, the first smartphone to ship with Facebook Home preloaded. He stated that the HTC First represents a great opportunity to bring the advantages of mobile and social together in one well-designed device.

 

The advantages of the HTC First, according to Pete, is that it was designed from the ground up to be tightly integrated with Facebook Home, delivering the best user experience, providing users Facebook Home right out of the box.

 

Ralph de la Vega –  ATT Mobility President CEO

Ralph de la Vega ATT Mobility President CEORalph de la Vega, ATT Mobility President CEO

Ralph talked about the fact that the HTC First is an LTE smartphone which will utilize the AT&T Mobility 4G LTE network, the fasted 4G mobile data network in the US according to Root Metrics. He also stated that the HTC First would be offered through AT&T exclusively for $99.99 and could be pre-ordered from AT&T mobility on 4 Apr 2013 for a 12 Apr 2013 delivery.

 

In the words of the great Yogi Berra, this seems like Dejavu all over again, except last time around the block, it was Apple who was offering the subsidized iPhone exclusively through AT&T Mobile.

Summary

While the Facebook Home application will be far from ubiquitous for a while after its announcement, it appears to have all the makings of a game changer in terms of both the social and mobile realms. It’s hard to ignore the irony of Facebook leveraging the mobile operating system of their primary competitor in the online advertising market.

The winners in this space are likely to be

  • Facebook more advertising inventory, user engagement and user generated content
  • HTC to be the first smart phone manufacturer to ship with Facebook Home preloaded
  • AT&T Mobility to be the first mobile operator to offer the HTC First

In fact, those interested can pre-order and HTC first from AT&T mobility beginning on April 4 to ensure they are one of the first users to experience the Facebook Home, fully integrated into a smartphone optimize for its integration. Note: The preceding pre-order links are not affiliate links.

 

The losers in this space are likely to be Apple and computer manufacturers whose users are increasingly using mobile devices to support social pursuits and even tasked based activities, especially with Facebook positioning Facebook Home as the best and preferred experience for the 1,000,000,000+ current Facebook users.

What do you think about Facebook Home and who do you think will be the winners and losers? We would love to hear from you in the comments below. Thanks for your time, attention and feedback.

About

Rick Noel is an experienced digital marketer enabling businesses and organizations to grow through the Internet, while maximizing marketing ROI (Return On Investment). Rick is the CEO and Co-Founder of eBiz ROI, Inc., a full-service digital marketing agency located in Ballston Lake, NY.

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