In an announcement that surprised pretty much no one in the technology industry, Facebook frontman Mark Zuckerberg announced the arrival of both a Facebook application suite, dubbed “Facebook Home” as well as a phone from HTC called “First” that will have Facebook Home pre-installed. It’s not an operating system, like iOS or Android, nor is the “First” a dedicated Facebook phone. Facebook Home is really a set of apps (only for Android phones at the moment) that essentially makes your phone more like Facebook and less like Android.
What this means for you:
If you live and breathe Facebook (and millions of Americans do just that), then you’ll want to give this app a try, but only if you have an Android phone. iPhone users will be out of luck for the forseeable future, as Apple does not allow the sort of access to the base operating systen that Facebook Home requires. For those of you wondering why anyone would want such a thing on your smartphone, consider this: For many, the Android OS is overwhelming and complicated. They just want to make calls, answer email, and connect with friends. These users are looking for what’s known as a “Walled Garden” experience, very similar to the way AOL offered the “internet” to millions who weren’t interested in (or bewildered by) the unfiltered and un-curated experience of the 1990’s world wide web. You could think of Facebook Home as the new “AOL” for your smartphone.
One thing to keep in mind: Facebook’s revenue model is based upon knowing as much as they can about all of their users. By using Facebook Home, it’s conceivable that Facebook will harvest much more data about you, including location data and browsing habits above and beyond what they can collect while you are sitting at home in front of a computer. If you’ve been living your life on the internet and have nothing to hide, and you don’t mind Facebook mining your smartphone activity for marketing data, Facebook Home might just give you the Facebook phone you’ve always dreamed of.