Pixel Envy

Written by Nick Heer.

Facebook’s ‘Phone’ Is Another Triumph of Mediocrity

A few more articles regarding Facebook Home, because I know how much you and I would love to have streaming ads on our home screens.

First up, Mark Zuckerberg was interviewed by Steven Levi of Wired:

It’s only available on Android phones. Isn’t it ironic that your mobile strategy is now tied to Google’s operating system?

We have a pretty good partnership with Apple, but they want to own the whole experience themselves. There aren’t a lot of bridges between us and Google, but we are aligned with their open philosophy.

Google and Facebook are ostensibly competitors, but it’s hard to see the extent to which they are actually competing. Google+ doesn’t anywhere near the social traffic that Facebook does, and Facebook’s email addresses aren’t really used (at least, not by anyone I’ve ever met).

Tim Carmody wrote about the two companies’ uneasy relationship for The Verge:

Facebook Home already inverts the system-level relationship between the social network and the launch screen. It already strips away nearly all of the chrome and UI features that make Android look like Android. Facebook just put the entirety of the core Android experience inside a blue-tinted, ad-sponsored wrapper, and then hid the wrapper as an app inside Google’s own store.

It’s not a phone, and it’s not an app — it’s a clever way to shoehorn Facebook into the existing ecosystem in a very powerful way. As Zuckerberg said in his interview with Levi:

We’re a community of a billion-plus people, and the best-selling phones—apart from the iPhone—can sell 10, 20 million. If we did build a phone, we’d only reach 1 or 2 percent of our users. That doesn’t do anything awesome for us. We wanted to turn as many phones as possible into “Facebook phones.” That’s what Facebook Home is.

Dan Frommer thinks it’s a great strategy:

Facebook isn’t likely to MySpace Android or iOS any time soon. But this is a smart, ambitious project for Facebook. I like it.

But Mat Honan thinks it’s lazy:

Facebook simply needed to show something that makes it easy to connect, consume and share more content with your friends. It did that. That dive-into Facebook home screen is the only thing that matters — you don’t even have to unlock your screen to dig into social. So who cares if Facebook Home makes its debut on mediocre hardware? Certainly not the people who made Facebook a hit.

It’s an incredibly polished product which — as it runs on existing platforms — requires little investment from Facebook. Yet it’s mediocre. Good enough.

The future might be much more interesting, though. Louie Mantia tweeted:

Motorola ROKR : HTC First :: iPhone : ???

I wonder.