/// Facebook Home: the start of the mobile social network takeover?
Earlier this year, just 18 months after its launch, Google Plus knocked Twitter off its perch to become the second most popular social network on Android, only lagging behind Facebook. Its rapid growth was, in part, fuelled by its close integration with Android.
And now Facebook has followed Google’s lead on integration – launching Facebook Home, which allows users to replace their default Android launcher with its own in a bid to make Facebook their first choice social network.
This is rich territory for mobile industry commentators, but what I think will be particularly interesting to keep an eye on is Google’s reaction to the growth of Facebook Home. Will we see an objection or alternative solution from Google in response to the huge number of Facebook users who can use the Facebook launcher on Google’s open source OS? If so, what can they do?
Google’s answer is simple – better integration between Google+ and Android. However, it is likely that the answer will only become reality once Facebook is proven to be a success.
For now, it’s worth noting that advanced Android users feel Facebook Home is an early stage launcher with too many constraints compared to many existing Android launchers. This is reflected in some Google reviews, with Facebook Home racking up an average score of 2.2 out of 5. For many mainstream users, on the other hand, Facebook Home will be their first introduction to the concept of Android launchers. It will be interesting to see how they find the customised experience.
And where does the lifestyle super-brand Apple sit in the equation? Is there an argument that this development could lead it to fueling the lack of social networking expertise in its portfolio? I don’t think so – Apple doesn’t need its own social network, since both Facebook and Twitter are already deeply integrated with iOS. It is also an area where Apple has not yet been successful, as proven by Ping’s shutdown.
Of course, if Apple was to launch its own social network, it would likely use its substantial clout to push it to users and aim to overtake both Facebook and Twitter. But this is still highly unlikely considering the immense Twitter and Facebook user bases. It is actually better for Apple to rely on third parties for its social network offering, as it is a much more flexible approach. Google, on the other hand, has to play both fronts, by allowing Facebook on its platform whilst obviously pushing Google+.
In the age of the social network, where there are over 500 active social media sites, there aren’t many that can justify such an integrated experience. If I had to pick just one with long-term potential to succeed, it’s definitely Facebook. That said, I wouldn’t go so far as to say Facebook’s move marks the start of social networks’ mobile take over; others like HTC or even Windows Phone already have deeply integrated social networks in their OS and have done for quite some time.
Facebook Home is, in essence, a more integrated way of interacting with Facebook friends. More than anything, with Facebook Home, Facebook is raising its mobile game by sitting on top of Android rather than just being an app.
The Guardian – James Connelly, Managing Director and Co-Founder at Fetch