Facebook Home vs. People Hub: Are they the same thing?

Anna Scantlin
Contributing Editor from Kansas City, MO
Published: April 6, 2013

In this industry you'll see a lot of "point and blame" being thrown around. Companies want to be successful and unique all in the same round. Unfortunately, sometimes you'll run into those seemingly "copycat" designs that make you question whether they stole the idea from you or not. We've seen this argument countless times from companies like Apple and Samsung, or really Apple and anybody. Microsoft is the newest company to get on someone's tail about copying by accusing the recent release of Facebook Home.

A company executive from Microsoft boldly accused those who designed Facebook Home for ripping off of Windows Phone's own People Hub, a feature that's been around for two years now. Frank Shaw, who is Microsoft's corporate VP of corporate communications, recently issued these accusations by way of blog post.

"I tuned into the coverage of the Facebook Home event yesterday and actually had to check my calendar a few times," he quipped, and continued on to say, "Not to see if it was still April Fool's Day, but to see if it was somehow still 2011." Shaw felt that the Facebook Home presentation was entirely too similar to Microsoft's Windows Phone 7 presentation which featured People Hub.

So just how similar is Facebook Home to People Hub? Strikingly similar in a lot of ways, but mostly in ways that you would expect it to be. While People Hub was designed with social interaction in mind, so was Facebook. In the same instance, Facebook Mobile has been around for a lot longer than People Hub, so one could easily argue that People Hub stole the idea to bring social networking into a device with a prettier interface. However, the design elements of Facebook Home does strongly resemble People Hub by taking away the ‘app-centric’ interfaces experienced by using Android or iOS – but they’re not identical.

While the design similarities are noticeable, overall the two are still very far from being the same thing. Facebook Home is simply an option for people to use if they want to further integrate Facebook – no other social networks, just Facebook – within their phone. People Hub, on the other hand, is a way to connect to people through various Social Networks such as Facebook, Google+, Twitter, and even Skype. I’ve already mentioned in previous articles that if you like to jump around to different social networks you’re probably not going to be that interested with Facebook Home.

That’s where the beauty of options comes in.

Frank Shaw basically says that Facebook Home is a knock-off of People Hub, and that people should get Windows Phone to enjoy the full experience of social networking integration. Sounds like a great sales pitch, but honestly it's not that serious. Most people wouldn't say that the reason they have their smartphone is because of how well social networks were incorporated in the device. Windows Phone and Android are two completely different platforms meant for two different types of smartphone users. I guess what I'm really trying to say here is: If the users aren't already using  Windows Phone for People Hub, they’re not going to flock now. I don’t even think Facebook Home is going to do terribly well when it comes to numbers, but that's just throwing my opinion out there.

I think that Shaw is taking the chance to make a mountain out of a molehill. The choice for users is simple; if you primarily use Facebook, and prefer the Android platform, then Facebook Home might hold something for you. If you prefer Windows Phone and use social networking then you might like People Hub. Whew, that was hard.

I think Microsoft has bigger fish to fry when it comes to companies stealing their thunder. Neither feature is that big of a deal.  

Images via PCMag and Microsoft