After much speculation surrounding the Facebook phone, the social networking giant unveiled Home a few weeks ago. The app installs a new home screen onto your Android phone and more fully integrates Facebook into its functionality; indeed according to Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook Home is a step towards designing a phone around people rather than apps. Home’s official site reads, “From the moment you turn it on, you see a steady stream of friends’ posts and photos on your home screen. Upfront notifications and quick access to your essentials mean you’ll never miss a moment. And when you download Facebook Messenger, you can keep chatting with friends when you’re using other apps.”
To date however reviews have been fairly poor. At the time of writing, Facebook Home has an average rating of just 2.3 on Google Play, with 9,261 of 17,742 reviews giving it just 1 star – and given that Facebook has had five weeks since the product launched, improvements have yet to be made to the service to boost its appeal. In fairness to Facebook, if the short lived outrage caused by switching users to Timeline is anything to go by we can probably get a good indication of how opinion could shift on Home once a few tweaks are made.
Thinking in the context of mobile advertising which I wrote about last month, could this be the type of game changer the industry needs? Though nothing was mentioned at the Home launch in relation to advertising, certainly this will add a new dimension to mobile ads. The information Facebook has the potential of accessing through Home is certainly appealing (or worrying depending on which side of the fence you’re sitting) and could provide opportunities for mobile advertising to be more genuinely native than Facebook currently claims it is. Additionally, it provides an opportunity for location-based targeting to appear in a less interfering manner. Thinking of how the chat heads and notifications features on Home work it’s not hard to imagine targeted ads popping up on screens without users having to navigate away from what they are currently doing, and more importantly allowing them to swipe it away if it isn’t of interest.
Obviously this opens up a raft of privacy issues. While a majority of consumers agree that their “definition of privacy is changing due to the internet and social media”, an even higher number say they would like greater control over their personal information and have the power to choose when they exchange it. Presumably Facebook plans to stick to its tried and tested approach, wait until it has achieved the scale needed to ensure users won’t leave before monetising Home. Still, when they do let’s hope they get it right.
What do you think? Is Facebook Home going to make mobile advertising more relevant and targeted? Will the move to a dedicated phone prove to be seamless? Will anyone actually use it?