Forget Apple versus Samsung or even iOS versus Android. The real mobile war is (and always has been) over capturing the attention of the users. We simply didn’t know it until Facebook released Home.
Android phones can be turned into Facebook devices with Home. It’s that simple. Rather than being an Android device that has apps, Home makes Facebook the driving force of the device, moving the apps and other features of the phone under the Facebook shell. You’ll be able to get notifications and interact with your Facebook friends from any other app at any point other than during phone calls themselves.
We’ve been critical of Facebook for years. They have made some pretty boneheaded moves and the rumors over the last couple of years of a Facebook phone had us fearing the worst. The reality as we learned today was not boneheaded. It was not something that should have had us worried. The result is Home. If the software is strong and the adoption rate is high, then Facebook went from being a mobile loser just a year ago to being the dominant mobile force out there.
It’s no longer about social media. They already won that battle and everyone else is playing for the silver medal. Now, Facebook is going after something that they’ve proven over the years to have a strong proficiency at: taking up our time.
Facebook’s mobile apps have been decent since the last batch of updates, but it has never anything exception. By bringing Home into the mix, they are basically taking something that they already have in abundance – share of our time while on mobile devices – and gobbling up much of what remains. Now, it’s Facebook all the time. It doesn’t matter what you’re doing, what app you’re using, who you’re texting, or which website you’re on. When you Facebook friends want to reach you, they can. When you want to reach them, you can.
Some will say that this is just a ballyhooed expansion of what their apps already do. After all, we get notifications today without having a shell of software over top of everything else. This perception is shortsighted. Today, there’s Facebook time and there’s time for other things when we’re using our mobile devices. When we want to go to Facebook, we will. With Home, the notifications will dominate the screen. The activities of our friends will dominate our mobile lives.
In essence, this is the Facebook phone that was rumored, only much better because we won’t need to buy another device. On April 12, Android users will be able to download Facebook Home. If enough of them do, the game is changed forever. It’s already the most popular mobile app. Now, it’s getting to piggyback on an operating system without having to solve the challenges associated with building software to handle the other phone needs.
Rather than build a platform on which other apps and software can run, Facebook took their own software and put it on top of what was already built. In short, they did something brilliant.
Whether or not it will be effective will be determined by the power of the software itself. If it’s great and people love it, then the game is over. If not, this will just be another in a long line of Facebook mistakes.