Not even a day later and the Internet is up in arms over Zuck's latest venture into our pockets with Facebook Home. It's business as usual for Facebook and their PR group. Luckily, we've already covered Facebook's newly launched FAQ page, so head on over to the link to get your questions answered. Too bad the FB FAQ didn't go live yesterday, or maybe I wouldn't have denounced the idea of Facebook UI to no avail, reciting The Bill of Rights as recourse, when in actuality, Facebook is a stage for speech in social media. It is the press for the people. Basically, Facebook Home is no different than what we already experience in their mobile app and I see no reason not to test it out.
It's just a launcher replacement.
(Disclaimer: I do not own any Facebook shares. No, I will not be buying the HTC first. I do have a Facebook. No, I will not friend you. Nor will I like any of your comments. In fact, I don't even use Facebook. And yes, I do have friends.)
I'm interested in the idea of Facebook Home in a nutshell. A social media app package as your launcher is a first in the industry. Facebook is the largest social media site. The mobile industry is Facebook's best chance of expansion as proven by the near 700 million users who login each month. A home replacement kit is one way to deliver a more polished product, since the general consensus of their app is "WTF."
Facebook has always been about immersion. For its devotees, it beckons the question "when", way before "what" and "why". It's most prevalent users don't use Facebook, they are Facebook.
In Facebook's press event, the entire Facebook staff was vocal about the time and consideration put into developing Facebook Home. From the video demos, it's hard to deny its crispness and fluidity. The software development is there, and it has potential to get even better with the promise of monthly updates. Mr. Zuckerberg's open appreciation of a clean user interface is evidenced by Facebook.com and Home looks even more fresh. Honestly, I want to try it because of how modest and unique the experience looks.
In 2013, we are on the brink of complete digital immersion. Wearable tech is "coming at you, bro." Constant connectivity is detrimental to well-being in some countries. And if you were to look back at anything Facebook has done, you would find that the world's youngest billionaire and his company are not modest. The social media jungle is a risky business and Facebook has never shyed away from their issues.
In 2006, the News Feed was met with apprehension with the very same concerns as Facebook Home: privacy and the potential for unwanted advertisements. News Feed is now the focal point of Facebook. It aggregates information around your life. Facebook is merely an about.me page without it.
Then a year later, the going's got tough with Facebook Beacon. It launched in 2007 with the intension of allowing users to share activities with their friends. It used a third-party advertisement system to send data to Facebook. It spawned the targeted advertisement. Beacon was shut down in 2009 and called a "mistake" by Zuckerberg. Then in early 2012, the News Feed added Sponsored Stories, and in January of this year, Graph Search. When you say "Goodbye, privacy," I say "Hello, 2013 social media."
How many times has a company openly admitted to potential problems and still managed to get their underlying message across? Facebook has never run away from the issue of privacy. They've been involved in so many lawsuits and still come out on top. So, why is the Facebook Home/privacy/advertising dilemma thing so surprising?
Yesterday, I mocked a future Facebook where users would be completely flooded with ads and privacy issues. Today, I'm ready to make sense of it. My colleague Mr. Evan Selleck believes Facebook Home could be ruined by ads, and I agree. Ads are yucky like moldy rye. I believe they've inundated the Internet to the point of no return. But they're also bordering innobnoxious and expected. For businesses, the targeted ad is like being fed with a spork. In reality, an ad has two ways of being effective: you either scoop up the targeted digital content and explore, or you poke it like you would Jell-O. Either way, you're one "x" away from closing it out.
And Facebook Home is as easy to avoid as uninstalling it.
No social media site in their right mind would question the potential for business growth and advertising revenue a home replacement can offer. USA Today estimated Twitter will earn $1.3 billion in ad revenue through 2015. According to Reuters, Facebook's advertising business grew 40 percent since its IPO last May. Advertising revenue grew in Q4 of 2012 41 percent to a total of $1.33 billion with a 23 percent share representative of mobile ads.
In summary, you'd be hard-pressed not to find visual pollution anywhere. The Internet is not exempt and a choice over the mobile app is, in some ways, less risky for the company and could present users with a nice alternative.
So, the real question is not will you be able to deal with ads on Facebook Home, or if it will inundate the experience. Advertisements already have a place in social media and we are becoming more social every second.
The real question is will Facebook bother to keep their Android mobile app around if Facebook Home is a success.
Image via Mashable.