Last night, Facebook announced a new app that will sit on top of other Android devices as a hub for the social network. It’s easier to think of it as a skin for a device that makes Facebook the first thing users see when they turn their devices on.
This isn’t a new operating system, it’s merely an app that takes advantage of Android’s open nature. Facebook Home puts all of the communication tools the company has been testing, such as 3G calling, messaging and email at the front of the device.
Facebook Home is designed to keep users locked into Facebook for more time than they are already. For app developers, Facebook is proving to be a highly effective way to advertise apps to users and drive downloads. For the time being, most of these downloads will come from users on the millions of Android, iOS, Windows Phone and BlackBerry devices.
It’s an interesting move for Facebook to make. Its apps remain in the top engagement and usage across platforms, with users spending 18 per cent
of their time in Facebook. It’s not as if they needed to push the platform in users faces even more.
With so many apps having Facebook integration, the platform continues to encourage social sharing and reliance on its services. Despite this, it seems surprising that the move isn’t more focused around moving its online gamers to mobile in order to continue to monetise them.
For brands, Facebook Home provides more of an opportunity to push advertising to consumers in a similar way that Amazon has pioneered with its Kindle range.
While there is no denying the power of Facebook, the crux of the announcement was around making Facebook the default communication platform on mobile. Apps can be launched but there isn’t anything that impacts on the way they’re built. There is no new ecosystem to optimise for, there isn’t a new app download centre.
Facebook now has more ways to be on all mobile devices, from the entry level to the top-end, anyone can access the site. Facebook is making itself as ubiquitous as the phone and SMS functions. It won’t impact the enterprise market where iOS, BlackBerry, Windows 8 and Android are fighting for leadership. It will be interesting to see how eager consumers are to make updates from friends the very first thing they see, and thats all you really need to know.
Robert Haslam, PR manager