Facebook Home is in the Wrong House

Facebook HomeI couldn’t agree more with Pete Pachal’s analysis on Mashable that launching, and initially limiting Facebook Home to the U.S. market is the wrong move. Facebook should have launched “Home” in a market with a need for lower cost devices without such heavy broadband penetration.

For those who’ve been living under a rock for the past 48 hours, Facebook Home is Facebook’s new homescreen replacement for Android.

In the U.S., however, Facebook Home will have an uphill battle, and not just because smartphone penetration is so much higher. It’s also because, among connected people, Facebook isn’t the only network that matters to us. Yes, as Mark Zuckerberg showed, it’s probably the app we fire up most often. But we also like to see what’s going on on Twitter, YouTube, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Quora and a host of other services.

In short, digital influencers in the U.S. — the very demographic Facebook Home needs to win over if it’s going to be successful — don’t want to curtail in any way the connections they value by spending more time in Facebook.

Would I let Facebook become even more of a constant distraction in my life, at the expense of the other social services I use and value? Would I abandon the social services where many of my friends have already migrated to? Would I want Facebook to be the first thing I see every time I pick up my phone? Hell no!

Pete also hit it on the head with the notion that a low end Facebook phone is simply not what the teenage market wants either.

The one way a U.S. launch for Facebook Home makes sense is the kid factor: The First offers parents a relatively cheap option for getting their kids a smartphone, one that’s caters to their lifestyle of constant connection.

But if that’s the thinking, it’s a few years behind. I was on the radio earlier this week to talk about messaging apps, and a 15-year-old girl appeared on the show to reveal how she communicates with her friends. Facebook didn’t factor in at all — she and her classmates only used the network when their study group made it necessary.

Gabrielle will be pushing 15 very soon, has an iPhone and laptop and doesn’t even want a Facebook account even though she’s been offered one a number of times. She has a blog, YouTube account and all the other bells and whistles, but as he friends don’t Facebook, neither does she. This initially surprised me but it makes sense – Facebook is where your parents hang out. Why would kids want to hang out there?

I was also struck by similar surprise when my little sister, Siobhán, was visiting from Ireland last October. She’s had a Facebook account since before she should have, but it’s very rarely used these days as it’s not where her friends congregate or choose to communicate online.

Don’t even get me started on the fact that Facebook has a bad history of not playing well with other application, and what this could mean if you allow them take over your smartphone experience.

Will you use Facebook Home?

Image via Facebook.

That’s Not Much Of A Gyft Google!

As part of Google’s 1 year birthday celebrations for Google Play, they are giving away free apps, episodes and music. One of the offers is for an app called Gyft (I have never heard of Gyft before now) which is offering $20 of free gift cards with the download.

$20 free bucks to blow on useless junk – let me download that straight away! Except, as you can see from the image below, the app won’t install on either of my Android devices. Instead I get the “this item is not compatible with your device” message, which is pretty amazing considering that my Nexus 7 runs the latest and greatest flavor of android (4.2.2) and my phone runs 2.2.

Fragmentation sucks! Thanks carriers!

Google Birthday Gyft

What If ISP’s Operated Like Cellphone Carriers?

The following video and the transcript below, is a direct result of conversation I had with Sara about the fact that there are currently no Android phones available on the Sprint network.

Transcript of the video:

What would the world be like, or what would your communications be like, if ISP’s operated the same way cellphone carriers do?

Imagine a situation where, with ISP’s operating the same as cellphone carriers, every time you wanted to change from one ISP to another you had to buy a new laptop, and the laptop that you bought had to be one approved by the ISP for use on their network!

Imagine every time, if you wanted to go out and buy an Alienware PC or but the latest Mac notebook, laptop or whatever and you couldn’t do it because they weren’t available to your ISP. Further to that imagine if you the got hold of your new laptop after moving to your new ISp and found that you can’t run the software you want on it because the software has to be approved buy the hardware manufacturer in conjunction with the ISP.

This may sound like a really, really stupid situation considering the cost of laptops and the cost of an ISP for a year but it is a situation that we go through and deal with everyday, especially in the US. Not so much here in Europe, but especially in the US in terms of our cellphones.

Now, many cellphone handsets are just as expensive as an entry level laptop or low end laptop. You can pay 300, 400 dollars or more, 500 – 600 dollars for a handset sometimes and yet you can only use it with certain networks.

Here in Europe things are very, very different on that front. I can buy any handset I want (except an iPhone) and as long as I take a contract and get a SIM card, with the network that I want to be on, then I can put it on any network that I want to put it on. And I can move it from network to network just by changing the SIM card.

Now, you can buy a phone here discounted, because of your contract with the cellphone carrier which locks your phone to that cellphone carrier. However, when you finish your contract you are allowed unlock your phone and move it to any other network.

But, you know, that’s besides the point.

The point that I’m trying to make here is that cellphone handsets are expensive. We buy them they are our hardware, once we purchase them.

They have also become very, very central to our communications and they’ve become central to our productivity. They are  just as essential to our productivity in some cases as our laptops are. They allow us to do many of the same functions while we’re on the move and stay in contact. But why is it that while we wouldn’t put up with this behaviour from ISP’s we put up with it from cellphone manufacturers/carriers?

Cellphones cost approximately the same as an entry level laptop yet if somebody was to tell you that you can’t use your laptop with us because we only allow Apple or we only allow say, Dell PC’s on our ISP, you’d be in uproar. The whole place would be in war over it.

So again, why do we allow this to happen with our cellphone handsets?