This week, Facebook made the major announcement many had been waiting for. Or, at least they thought it was the announcement they were waiting for. Many speculators have anticipated for some time that Facebook would announce and release a Facebook phone. What they got was Facebook Home. What is Facebook Home? And, more importantly, are you ready for it?
What is Facebook Home?
Facebook, like most companies in the social media space today, knows that the world is moving rapidly towards mobile devices. Sales of desktop and laptop computers are declining while sales of smartphone and tablets are jumping through the roof. And as these consumers adopt mobile devices, companies (like Facebook) want to make certain that they are able to keep consumers connected to their networks at all times. There’s been a significant movement in the past year towards re-designed mobile apps for social network. Google Plus had a major overhaul. Instagram has risen tremendously and spread beyond its iOS roots. Even LinkedIn has completely re-designed its presence on mobile devices to make it easier for users to stay connected. But Facebook Home takes this approach even further. It embeds the Facebook ecosystem into the phone and allows it to work in and around all of the other apps you use on a daily basis. Here’s a brief video demonstrating Facebook Home:
Cool Feature: Chat Heads
As you can see in the video, a user can continue on-going conversations with their Facebook friends even when they are using other apps. They do this though a feature called “chat heads.” These “heads” are really small profile bubbles that ride to the side of the mobile device’s screen and can be recalled at a moment’s notice. Helpful? Perhaps. Potentially annoying? Maybe. A strong way to embed Facebook into the everyday mobile user’s experience? Absolutely.
What Facebook Home Means for Business
Initially, Facebook Home will only be available for a few models on the Android operating system. This is likely a smart move since Android is the fastest growing smartphone operating system in the world right now. As a result, there is a wide audience ready to receive this new tool from Facebook. However, I can’t help but wonder if this is a strike at Google as a way to fight back at the growing popularity of Google Plus. Only time will tell. But in the meantime, we’re left to wonder, what does Facebook Home mean for business? Immediately, it probably won’t have much of an impact. If your target audience is already on Facebook and you’re connected with them, this means that they have one more way to stay in touch with you. Longer term, however, I see this as part of the social media war going on between Facebook, Google, Twitter and LinkedIn. Facebook is trying to take advantage of its sizable lead in terms of the number of users to get people to think “Facebook” when on their mobile device. For businesses, this reinforces the need to have a solid social media strategy so you know how to take advantage of the shifting landscape.
In the meantime, keep an eye out for Facebook Home. The HTC First will be the first phone to ship with Facebook Home already on-board the device. The HTC First will be available on April 12.