So how about that Facebook announcement today? Most people were expecting a phone and they kind of got that, but not really. What they got was an immersive Facebook experience built into a phone.
They aren’t the same thing. What Facebook is doing is building its product into the Android OS. Because the Android OS is open, where the iPhone OS is closed, Facebook can make this happen. The experience lives on top of Android and they meld together quite nicely.
Actually, the strategy is brilliant. And you may not realize why.
If Facebook has a competitor, it’s Google Plus. And Google and Android are one company. So if Facebook wanted to kick Google in the digital nuts, it just did. Home pushes Facebook into the foreground and Google into the background. Sure, you’re using a Google device, but your Google device is all Facebook, all the time.
What’s so fascinating is that the Google Plus mobile experience is gorgeous – even more gorgeous than the pretty Home. Because Google allowed its OS to be so open, Facebook could come in and do this. Makes me wonder if Google is regretting its decision.
Now look at Apple and the second half of the headline. Facebook Home is not coming to the iPhone because the iPhone OS is closed. Apple would never allow this because it would pretty much put the Facebook OS on top and push the iOS into hiding. Apple wants iOS to be the star of everything. So the way Facebook is baked into the iOS now, where you can share from anywhere – that’s about as good as I think it’s ever going to get.
Unless Apple buys Facebook, but let’s save that for another post.
For some, the iOS version is good enough, and that’s going to be the telling part when it comes to whether or not Home is successful. Even though Android has caught up with iPhone in terms of sales, will people demand such an immersive Facebook experience that they’ll go Android to get it? Or will they be happy with the level that exists in the iPhone?
I’m a heavy Facebook user who loves his iPhone but also embraces all technology. When I look at Facebook Home, I think it’s pretty and smart and I’d like to have it, but I don’t want it bad enough that I would ever give up my iPhone or the iOS/iTunes ecosystem. And I suspect many people will feel the same way. Someone who has never had a smartphone might be drawn to Android because of Facebook, but I don’t think Facebook Home is going to have the giant impact Mark Zuckerberg hopes.
That’s not to say Home won’t sell. The HTC phone demoed at the announcement is $99, which is a bargain for a decent device. But as newer models of the iPhone with a whole new iOS 7 are released, there could be a renewed interest in Apple. Time will tell, but one thing is for sure: The competition between Android and iOS has never been hotter – or more important.