Stuttering start for Facebook Home

Apr 23, 2013

It may have been a bold move and it may have illustrated that you don't need to control the OS to engineer things so that you can be the dominant presence on a smartphone, but on the evidence so far users have been underwhelmed by the Facebook experience on-offer. (see - Facebook puts skin in the game with Home).

Apart from anything else there's no avoiding the fact that Facebook Home is currently more cottage than palace, being limited so far to just a few Android devices: including the HTC One X, HTC One X+, Samsung Galaxy S3, and Samsung Galaxy Note 2.

That's not a good start and the numbers are bound to droop.The Yankee Group's Carl Howe has obligingly sliced and diced the addressable market for Home thus:Only half of Facebook fans use Android phones. Of the consumers we surveyed in Yankee Group’s 2013 US Consumer Survey, March, 35 percent of the survey respondents ranked the Facebook brand an 8 or higher out of 10 points; we called those consumers Facebook fans and consider them to be the most likely consumers who would want Facebook Home to take over their phones. Only 51 percent of those Facebook fans have Android phones, which are required to presently run Facebook Home.

Only half of Android Facebook fans have the appropriate version of Android to run Facebook Home. Facebook Home requires users to be running one of the two latest versions of Android to be able to run the software. Google Play’s own data says that this is only 54 percent of Play users, further reducing the available market for Facebook Home.

That's a lot of halvings. In fact, observes Howe, even if all the fans with the right Android platform were to download Home, they would still only consititute 28 per cent of the Facebook fans (in the US).

And Howe hasn't even executed the ultimate slicing and dicing. That is subtracting x from the total, where x is the number of downloaders who try the app and then discard it - leaving it to moulder with all the other unloved apps in the Android user's All Apps gallery.

And here the signs look very bad indeed. According to the rankings on Google Play, those who have downloaded it and bothered to review (just over 12,000) have granted it a measly 2 stars - that's close to 'Don't touch with a barge pole'.

The grumbles are various: from moans about it being a power-suck to there not being any widgets. Every aspect of it appears to be below par. And this, remember, is from people who are apparently comfortable with the concept of a Facebook phone takeover (otherwise why download it in the first place?).

Given the importance and billions of dollars in Facebook capitalisation riding on Zuckerberg's ability to 'mobilise' Facebook, it's astounding and even perhaps awesome that he let the thing out of the door in such an unfit state.

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