On Thursday, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg finally let everyone out of the dark. After months of speculation, rumors and heavy-handed hints about a possible Facebook Phone that would ‘rule them all’ (very Lord-of-the-Rings-like), he managed to leave everyone frustrated and slighty bemused.
The final unveiling, an app that would transform any Android OS phone into a ‘Facebook phone’, might have been a disappointment for many after the hype, but it might be the most intelligent move possible for Zuckerberg’s Facebook.
If they had tried to bring out a new gadget with the associated operating system, the production demands and the massive market competition might have sunk them before they even set foot in the stores. After the recent launch of Facebook Graph, a search engine that promises to compete with Google, the rumors of a new gadget sounded like Facebook was biting off more than it could chew.
Facebook might have noted their own dependence on operating systems with their mobile users (and that they would be making some powerful competitors by launching into mobile phone construction territory). An app to transform the operating system to their advantage made a lot more sense. Is it exciting? Not as much as a new smartphone, but the implications should send a shudder through Facebook-haters everywhere, because in strategy, they might have hit the jackpot.
How does ‘Facebook Phone’ work?
The social platform minds worked alongside HTC on this project that (unlike the unfortunate ‘Facebook shortcut buttons’ on handsets, which sold badly), looks set to reach many users in the Android operating system.
Facebook hasn’t come up with a new main home screen to take over devices upon installation; instead it created Facebook Home within the new HTC First, a 4.1 Android OS device which will be released this month in the US and later this year around the world. Although HTC’s new gadget is particularly similar to those of the HTC One and proves to be quite bland, it shows that the new application can adapt to different devices that use the Android OS without any issues. The device also has predetermined apps like Instagram and Chatheads, the new Facebook messaging IM system, at users’ disposal.
As soon as you kick-start the Facebook homepage, the social platform news feed is unveiled in an attractive and easy to use display. The convenience is that Facebook works in the background, notifying uses of news, messages and allowing you to share photos, your location and status updates directly. It controls your lock screen and also has control over the phone system and WiFi settings, to avoid the need to switch between apps.
Divide and conquer
Facebook’s tactic has been to please everyone. For Facebook users, the convenience of a unified system and easy updates will make their connected lives easier. Advertisers will be delighted if they continue to please with mobile phone advertising, capable of reaching more phone users than ever. Mobile phone makers won’t have to choose sides (for or against Facebook). If their strategy works, it might be translated to other OS and makers might decide to transform their phones into predetermined Facebook-installed gadgets.
Creative Commons photo courtesy of Sean MacEntee