Facebook fail?

Just as some of us so rightly predicted Facebook’s new ‘Home’ software didn’t impress us all. The company has had to backtrack in an embarrassing twist to the development of their first foray into the HTC's Peter Chou talks about the HTC First with Facebook Home.smartphone industry. Facebook launched Home earlier this year as a new generation for the social smartphone.

The European launch of Facebook Home has been “delayed” after poor customer feedback and uptake in the US. Since its launch the service has been inundated with critical user feedback and recommendations. HTC has produced what has been classed as the worlds first ‘Facebook Phone’ amidst a hyped up launch earlier on.

The service is design to be more integrated into he device’s UI and Facebook is set at its heart. In reality it isn’t a phone but a simple overlay that means you Facebook data is the most prominent part or the device. EE confirmed “following customer feedback” the European release of the device would be halted. Over the past month Facebook has been in disarray – the company has lost some of its key players. Chief Product officers and Global Communications directors have all left Facebook alone to fend for themselves after a ‘dodgy’ Home launch.

Eric Lin ex Product Strategy Manager at HTC later posted on Twitter:

“To all my friends still at @HTC – just quit. Leave now… It’s tough to do, but you’ll be so much happier, I swear.”

imageHTC and Facebook had worked closely on the product and HTC had partially bet on it for the companies survival with dwindling sales in other areas. Mark Zuckerberg had been expected to stand in front of a crowd and launch a wholly designed and true ‘Facebook Phone’; instead shareholders and the consumer were disappointed at the half hearted launch of a simple price of software. Zuckerberg promised it would change the relationship people had with their phones but little evidence of this ‘change’ has occurred. Facebook home is a free download available in the Google Play Store and is basically a skin to overlay on top of the stock Android experience. Facebook customises the layout of the phone to ensure you Facebook notifications are the first thing you see – whether it be on the Home screen, menus or in other applications. For some it maybe too much Facebook…

At the end of the day Facebook didn’t really succeed in quenching the thirst for most consumers to have a truly dedicated social phone. The company has rebranded a simple piece of software and labelled it their ‘Home’. Facebook need to be more daring – he market is saturated with devices and nothing sets this device/software apart from the rest. Home has been riddled with privacy concerns and possible flaws and this has out many off. No consumer that uses their phone for mobile usage and the odd social networking would be interested in this device. This is where Facebook have singled themselves out. For me it is too ‘Facebook’ for me – every tap you take brings you to more Facebook services, which would be good for users who live on the platform. But I don’t – and like many others out there who just browse and enjoy the service but don’t want it shoved down their throats, Facebook Home is not for them.

Facebook has built themselves a foothold in the market and will likely exploit it. I can easily see he scourge of Facebook soon arriving on mobile devices. Luckily, to a certain extent, you can be free of ads when surfing Facebook from a mobile app. But with the latest release where Facebook has complete control it wouldn’t be too surprising if a found a few ads lurking on my home screen. Facebook has tried a strategy that hasn’t really worked. The company has come out and said:

“While many people love it, we’ve heard a lot of great feedback about how to make Home substantially better”

Well better can be good for some – but it would take more than “better” to drag me over to their ecosystem. I am weary of a product that allows a single company to be able to possibly devolve so deep into my life that it becomes intrusive. But that said the company has to start somewhere. As a first, Facebook can develop – it will need to work closely with partners and possibly look at widening their audience. Currently the service can only be found on Android devices – but that is another story. Facebook home isn’t likely to be found on my devices in the near future and if ‘Home’ is their idea of future communication. It looks like I may be moving…