Facebook Home Will Prove Addictive Only to the Socially Obsessed

By Wayne Rash  |  Posted 2013-04-04 Print this article Print

NEWS ANALYSIS: Facebook introduces an Android-based system of apps that provides constant access to Facebook but fails to explain why this is a good thing.

Who will buy it? You probably already know the answer to this. Now that the iPhone is no longer cool, those millions of teens slathering to be even more closely wired into the social landscape will think it’s the best thing since Justin Bieber. The phone will sell like hotcakes. Teens will be Facebooking with their friends even as they skip their homework and forget their research papers to spend their time being social.

So how is this different from the social networking they’re already doing? For the most part it’s not. Facebook has an app for virtually every mobile platform ever built and for phones that can’t run apps it’s got browser-based options. There’s even a version of Facebook for feature phones called Facebook Zero (0.facebook.com) that exists as a text-only edition of Facebook.

What’s really different is that by taking over the front page of your phone, Facebook gets a favored position that will tend to increase the use of Facebook in contrast to other social networking sites. After all, your Facebook feed is front and center, so you’re looking at that first and last. Everything else requires moving past the Facebook front page and running another app. Think of it as a form of friction that keeps you stuck to Facebook.

Facebook, meanwhile, reduces that friction by being omnipresent. Facebook messages will flow, no matter what else you’re doing. By creating the Facebook middleware, the company has effectively introduced a level of multitasking so that your other apps keep running, but so does Facebook. In other words, you have the multitasking from Hell.

But there’s a limited market for an omnipresent Facebook. Nobody is going to want to use this phone for business, and most people who aren’t Facebook addicts will not want the constant social feed.

What this means is that Facebook Home, with or without the special HTC hardware, is only going to appeal to those teens or twenty-somethings who can’t live without the service. These are the obsessed people who are already on Facebook all the time. The new phone or new app just ties these people ever more tightly to Facebook.

Whether this is a good thing is in the eye of the beholder. Personally, it makes me want to quickly uninstall the Facebook app from my phone. But then I’m hardly Facebook Home's target customer.


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