Facebook Home – an new level of social evil or an angel in blue for Android app developers?

It has been interesting to feel how the Twitterverse has responded to Facebook’s new set of Android apps for HTC, Samsung devices. Lots of chats and links to blogs about invasions of privacy, whether the phones are any good and generally adding lots more column inches for Facebook both positive and negative.

From a greatmarketing POV what I am interested in is two fold for two emerging markets.

One, what do the developers of apps think about it and…

Two, what will it mean for mobile games developers.

The first I can source from a great article about it entitled, Will Android developers feel ‘Home’ in Facebook’s new offering? http://www.fiercedeveloper.com/story/will-android-developers-feel-home-facebooks-new-offering/2013-04-08#ixzz2Q3moTR58

The latter, I have to make a prediction on. Mainly based on reviews of what the interface makes people do when they use it. It is this area where the psychology and perhaps the truth of it all will happen. The arguments about whether Facebook should be allowed to do it or whether the world should realize the implications of such a move is a much bigger topic (one I discussed with others at the BIG Data workshop with the technology strategy board.)

Much wiser people than I talked about it and so I will not go into detail here.

I can talk about it from a development / marketing POV however, as to some developers, the announcement of Facebook Home could be the beginning of simply HUGE opportunities to create apps that work with one of the world’s most popular social networks.

Mark Zuckerberg, himself, confirmed that the company will work with handset makers like HTC and Samsung rather than create its own hardware. And rather than a new OS, the social network created a series of apps to provide a more intuitive experience for consumers. On the Facebook Developer blog, Jenny Yuen suggested that the result would make Facebook an even better platform for app makers.

“We’re excited to give you new ways to engage with people through Home. This release is a first step, and we’ll continue to improve Home–including enabling support for additional Open Graph story types,” she said. “For developers, Home enables new ways to surface your content to help people discover your app and reengage with existing users.”

Mix this with the new way through PPC you can advertise your app could mean that we are entering a whole brave new world in mobile marketing!

But this will ONLY work if people, real people, people who really use the phone, actually like the process. It’s not down to developers  – so far reviews have been positive like this one written by Lance Ulanoff 9 hours ago.

“In the past 36 hours, I’ve spent more time on Facebook than I have in the past three months. I’ve been liking photos, commenting, and checking in. I’m becoming a real Facebook gadfly. This is all due to the new Facebook Phone, or, more accurately the HTC First, the first phone running Facebook Home.

Facebook Home is Facebook’s brand new Android Launcher for Android phones running Ice Cream Sandwich and Jelly Bean (Android 4.0 and 4.1 –- no iOS on the horizon for now) and replaces your standard lock screen with an always-active, ever-in-motion, Facebook-centric homepage.

That may sound overwhelming, or even like a very bad idea, but in practice it’s not. It simply, and very effectively, puts Facebook in front of everything else you might do with your phone, without, somewhat surprisingly, hiding everything else away.

As a launcher — something that Google Play is, by the way, full of — Facebook Home does not alter Android or, as some might worry, fork it. Underneath the Facebook interface is good old-fashioned Android. In fact, everything Android does is no more than a swipe away.

Facebook Home puts Facebook images from your news feed right on the lock screen, now called cover feed, complete with comments and the ability to like or add your own comments — right from that same screen. Status updates that don’t include a photo appear with the poster’s cover images. This means you’ll see a lot of the same cover image for those who don’t add many photos. If the status update has an image (no video, for now), you’ll see that image with the status update overlaid.

There are currently no ads, but Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has promised that they’ll eventually arrive in cover feeds. I’m sure they’ll get the same preferential treatment as everything else Facebook.”

That may annoy some people. But for us marketing folk this will be a good send. And for app advertising and mobile game developers this might be something really rather special.

Lance continues “Overall, Facebook Home is an effective Android Launcher that probably doesn’t go far enough. The app launcher does not include a Facebook app store, and while Facebook Home feels polished and deeply integrated with the phone’s touch capabilities, it looks oddly out of sync with the Facebook mobile app’s more traditional design.

I’m not happy with Facebook’s decision to lower privacy settings by default. If the phone is locked, it should be locked. Period.

As a version 1.0 phone and Android launcher platform, though, Facebook and HTC clearly have something here. The phone is polished and fun to use and I’ve become a frictionless Facebook engager, all thanks to Facebook Home. Once Facebook more tightly integrates Facebook Home with all its services, which seems likely considering the promised monthly updates, and resolves the unfortunate privacy mistake, I think they may have a winner here.”

Personally I feel like with all Facebook moves, they move two step forwards, one step back – they annoy everyone with the first move, listen to feedback and pull back, only to then put in the advertising later on.

For social mobile game developers like dojit, the facebook cover for andriod might be just what they were looking for. And as the potential new creative director, just the kinda of thing I can benefit from in the narrative and creation of social games.


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