As you have already heard from every technology outlet on the Interwebs, Facebook is holding a press event for something that they wouldn't like us to ignore. Rumors have pointed to a deeply integrated Facebook user interface and possibly a Facebook phone. But no matter if you're into the social media scene or not, the idea of Facebook as a home screen is quite a feat to pull off. The Facebook poke might never be the same.
Facebook's "new home" has the potential to send shockwaves through the social media scene. The idea of having a true phonebook (Thanks, Aaron.) complete with your personalized collection of friends could change the way we digitally interact. And there's a physical element to it as well that could utilize smartphone technology like the ambient light sensor (detect when a phone is face down and update status to "busy") and NFC (bump to be-friend, anyone?), too.
But I wouldn't be telling the entire story if I said I didn't have my doubts about a product that has taken around two years to unveil. Despite the Facebook-HTC love childs codenamed ChaCha and Salsa, I'm expecting something more along the line of Blues. A contemporary, nostalgic wave of social media to remind its audience of a billion that you don't truly have friends without Facebook. If successful, the notion that we need a device "just because" could be a first for HTC.
Many people are likely already scratching their heads about Facebook's newly found mojo in the mobile scene. But stop. This isn't a joke because 1 billion people comment and tag monthly. Around 680 million like and poke via mobile. In other words, we're looking at the sort of Facebook integration even iOS users would be surprised by. Rumors have circulated of iOS-like integration of Facebook atop Android with all sorts of social functions built in. While the speculation remains rampant in the moments leading up to Facebook's event, you shouldn't be too surprised by what's unveiled.
To put it simply, privacy has become a prized possession, but deeply integrated location-based interaction could make it an anomaly.
Imagine you're "checking in" to a local bar on a Friday night after work at the accounting firm. It's tax season and you could use a drink. Immediately, Facebook lists you as attending the wet t-shirt party starting in an hour at the very same bar. All of a sudden, you get multiple Like's on your Check In, including comments from your parents and significant other. And then comes the comment from your ex...the crazy one. "I see you," reads the comment, but since you're in a building, signal is going in and out, and before you know it, you're in a bear hug. A guillotine of misguided, one-sided, and unwanted love.
With that said, it's no secret that ad revenue has been something of a unicorn since Facebook's IPO. Facebook investors are looking to profit from the social media company, not just meet expectations, and ad revenue will likely be integrated into Facebook Home and any potential phone ten-fold. A specialized Facebook home screen would open up many possibilities to display ads across a variety of mediums and native applications if HTC (Facebook's rumored partner for a phone) desires. From Facebook Messenger to photo uploads, Facebook has options when it comes to posting tailored ads for local bar specials and wet t-shirt contests (since it knows you're into that sort of thing).
Facebook could also push ads into their Messenger rather subtly. Just as you're about to say "I love you," leave it to Facebook to recommend a gift from 1-800-Flowers. That would be nice, right? I wouldn't put it by the social media giant to push ads in conversation based off of keywords like "love," or "drunk," either. That ad data could then be filtered through the Facebook Timeline for common interests among friends. With Facebook home or phone set to allow access to your location, you could be running from the club to the florist before you know it.
Ultimately, sharing your location akin to FourSquare could trounce the latter. In essence, local event recommendations with nearby "friends" could be better played with mace at-hand. Are you lonely? Bam, so is this person. Event created. The other person RSVP's "maybe." You say "no" from your last Check In. Ten minutes later, a knock comes from downstairs. Time to RSVP "attending" and comment "running late, sry."
Then there's the possibility to integrate Facebook into the phone app. I wouldn't put it by them to incorporate a 10-second ad while you'd normally be listening to the dial tone. In the time you'd be listening to that comforting, undulating dial tone, a full ad could be played. And if the person you're calling interupts the ad, it could finish itself off throughout the call when the microphone detects awkward silence. "You say it," says one person. "No, you first," says the other while laughing. Silence. Axe ad: "...you need to keep your balls clean, the problem is soap just doesn't cut it." Nice and subtle. Now, that would make sense, but I think they could go even further.
In native functions like taking pictures and sending texts, Facebook could exploit these functions rather easily, too. If Facebook was smart, they'd find a way to force you to make friends. For instance, Facebook could "recommend" you call someone that you haven't spoken to in one month after you've placed 10 "free calls" to your friends. Or Facebook could charge you $2 for every call made to someone you aren't friends with on Facebook. Or charge you to call long, lost friends. The potential to make investors happy with ad revenue goes on.
All in all, rumors circling Facebook's press event might be getting ridiculed, but the largest social media website in the history of the genre is not shy, and I wouldn't trust any other company to make me realize what I'm missing. Facebook, beam me up! The world is ready for complete digital immersion into social media. Go big, or go home. The real question is, why wouldn't you want to be as social as possible, Dear Reader? Is Facebook onto something with a new application-layer running atop Android? Or have the thoughts of ads and privacy issues sent you running the opposite direction?
Image via Ubergizmo.