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Facebook Home Launches: Too Much Cowbell?
Posted on April 18th 2013
April 16 marked the official launch of the "Facebook phone," simply called Home, which is essentially an android with software that places the users friends (or Facebook) "above everything else." The promo, featuring the always-awkward Mark Zuckerberg announces the operating system for your phone as a "whole new experience." But from the looks of it, it seems less like a new experience for a phone, but rather a mobile device solely dedicated to a new Facebook experience. Or, quite simply, a phone that centers on a Facebook app on steroids.
The promo shows "Joey," the Facebook staffer who somehow thinks it's okay to remain on his phone while the CEO of his company is a mere 5 feet away, immersing himself in Home while his newsfeed literally becomes a reality right in the middle of an office meeting. Poor office etiquette aside, the ad is adequately clever. What is interesting, however, is that standard mobile features are conspicuously missing from the promo (including but not limited to: surfing the web, cameras, the actual phone, and all those other pesky non-Facebook related apps).
So who would actually want this? After all, when you hear people talk or complain about their phones, it generally centers around topics like how good or bad their mobile service is, the usability of the keypad, or perks like the quality of their camera; not a desire for more Facebook.
While I won't fault Home for essentially being a product consumers don't seem to need (since many successful products can start that way), the entire device seems guided by a vision that suffers from delusions of grandeur. As much as Facebook wants it to be a reality, the majority of people's lives do not revolve around their newsfeed and Facebook isn't above everything else. When I think of how Home was developed, I recall the SNL sketch where Christopher Walken is demanding more cowbell. In this case, Zuckerberg isn't asking for more cowbell (unfortunately), but he certainly seems to have a fever where the only presciption is more Facebook.
But is it possible Home is the future for mobile devices? Possibly, sure. But with Facebook rolling out a slew of initiatives like a redesigned newsfeed, the #hashtag, and even the emoticon (which seem to all revolve around capturing more user information for the benefit of Graph Search), this could also be the start of when Facebook starts to lose users who may feel that they don't want so much cowbell (so to speak). After all, if Home features a slideshow of each user’s newsfeed, isn't it only a matter of time until ads start to pop up?
Early reviews for Home aren't looking as promising with many users already claiming it is, indeed, "too much Facebook". At the same time, there are rumblings that Home will also be coming to iOS in some capacity soon. Facebook junkies at the moment stand to benefit the most from Home for obvious reasons. But their ad also brings up an unintentional privacy issue as well as social ramifications (especially in the office) since a phone dedicated solely to Facebook makes it much more obvious what the user is doing when they are on their mobile device. And who wants to be seen has that guy who is constantly Facebooking? For anybody that was interested in buying this, it might be a better experience to stay outside for the time being.