Which would you choose, a Facebook or Amazon smartphone?Evan Selleck - Contributing Editor
So now that we have even more rumors going around that HTC and Facebook are working together to bring a “new” Facebook phone to market in the future, I was thinking about writing a “Devil’s advocate” piece, trying to justify the existence of such a device. After all, a ridiculous number of people use Facebook every single day, so a phone that’s built around the service probably makes sense to someone out there. (Not including those at Facebook and HTC, obviously.) But, instead, I felt like comparing two fake things to see which way you’d swing when the time comes.
As it stands right now, the mobile OS space is getting less crowded as the months tick off the calendar. We’re watching Research In Motion fade away apparently, and on the other side of the coin we’re still watching as Android and iOS fight for the top spot. Windows Phone is still climbing up the ladder, so that’s a good thing. So where would newcomers like Facebook or Amazon fit into this battleground? Would they go with something familiar, or branch out into something new?
I think the likely answer is going with something that’s familiar, but skinning it to no end.
We see skins from HTC and Samsung, and how they have evolved so drastically since their inception. Sense UI and TouchWiz have come a long way, and while they are different in quite a few aspects, they share one common mentality with their latest versions: not so heavy, and not so in your face. Now that these pieces of proprietary software aren’t so over-the-top in their presence, we are starting to welcome them back into our lives. These new phones are still skinned, but not so much that we feel their burden.
I fear that that won’t be the case with either the Facebook or Amazon phone. Quite the opposite, actually. If these phones do exist, then it’s going to be all about shoving their proprietary software in your face, and probably even down your throat.
In Facebook’s case, it won’t just be about a little button on a device that’s run by Android. No, it’s going to be much, much more than that. Yes, Android will still be under there somewhere, but we won’t recognize it. Not at face value, anyway. I’m sure there will be some aspects in daily usage that avid Android fans would notice, but for the most part the “new” Facebook phone will probably be a testament to Facebook more than anything else. But, that’s the point, right? After all, you’re buying a Facebook phone – not an Android device running cool features that link to Facebook.
Why? Because we already have those phones. We already have devices that sync with Facebook, and bring us updates from our friends, and link to pictures, and do all that fun stuff. Those devices exist, so Facebook and HTC need to automatically think beyond that. Think bigger. Think bolder. Think . . . Well, think in your face.
Which leads me to Amazon. We’ve already seen what they can do when they want to skin Android, courtesy of the Kindle Fire. That device is running Android in there somewhere, but you wouldn’t’ really guess it by using the device right out of the box. Amazon put a lot of work in making that tablet their own, even if Google’s mobile OS is tucked away under the covers.
It makes sense for Amazon because they need to push their own services. The Kindle Fire is a perfect tablet for anyone who subscribes to Amazon Prime. It’s great for those who don’t, too, as long as you like using Amazon to get your media. They aren’t trying to sell Android with the Kindle Fire. They are trying to sell Amazon; so removing Android from almost every aspect of the device’s usage makes sense.
That’s why we can expect the same thing from Facebook. Which is exactly why we should expect that, if these rumors of a new phone are true, that it will be all Facebook, and nothing else.
So I’m curious. And this goes out to those of you out there who are Amazon Prime subscribers or not. Which phone would you go for? Are you that die-hard of a Facebook user that you would throw your money down to buy a phone that’s aimed specifically for the social networking platform? Or, are you a much bigger fan of Amazon and all the digital storefront has to offer? Would it come down to how the proprietary skins look and work? Or would you just jump head-first towards a brand?
Let me know, Dear Reader.
image via AppAdvice