Facebook Home goes after mobile market

A year after calling mobile a 'risk,' Facebook pushes forward with mobility efforts

Less than a year after Facebook called mobile one of its biggest risks, the social network has made another big move to attack the mobile market.

On 4 April, Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook's co-founder and CEO, unveiled a launcher, called Home, for the Android platform. The home screen and app family will sit on top - and not replace - the Android operating system.

While many had speculated - again - that Facebook was going to unveil its own smartphone, Zuckerberg made it clear he's focused on making people's mobile phones more social - not creating a whole new phone or diving into the hardware market.

"We want to bring you this experience of knowing what's going on around you right on your phone," he said during a news event to announce Home. "The home screen is really the soul of your phone. You look at it about 100 times a day. It sets the tone for your whole experience."

That's a big advance into mobile for a company that just last spring listed mobility among its ‘risk factors’ in an amended filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, The company admitted the quickening shift from traditional desktop or laptop computers to mobile devices was hurting Facebook's advertising plan, since it had no way to monetise this growing mobile trend.

Mobile has been a tough nut to crack, not just for Facebook but for all companies. However, given Facebook's massive popularity and 1-billion-member user base, it was a very visible problem for the world's largest social network.

Those days are over, according to Brian Blau, an analyst with Gartner.

"I think they got [mobile] a while ago, but what you're seeing now is them optimising their experience," he said. "I think this is one in a step of many moves to attack the mobile market with their full ferocity."

Facebook has been strategically focused on mobile for several quarters now. In 2012, the company finalised its acquisition of Instagram, a popular photo-sharing app, redesigned its iOS app and delivered new development tools for iOS and Android. In January, executives speaking during the company's fourth-quarter and year-end earnings meeting, called Facebook a "mobile company" and noted that the number of Facebook's monthly active mobile users jumped 57% from a year earlier to 680 million in the fourth quarter of 2012.

Facebook reported that it had more users accessing the network from mobile devices than from the Web.

Company executives also were quick to point out that mobile accounted for 23% of Facebook's ad revenue in the last quarter of 2012. That's up from 14% in the third quarter and zero at the beginning of last year.

To add an Android launcher to that mix should only help Facebook work its way further into the mobile market.

"This goes a long way to helping Facebook deal with this mobile issue," said Rob Enderle, an analyst with the Enderle Group. "At least from what I've seen so far, it's a good step in the right direction.... I think it's the only road for them to go down."

Jeff Kagan, an independent industry analyst, said this is a smart move for Facebook. But he doesn't envision a majority of Android users will download the new home screen.

"While I think Home will be a success, I don't think the majority of wireless users will be interested in this full time, always on, Facebook connection," he said. "But this will help Facebook continue to grow.... Mobile is a revolution in industry after industry. Today we never leave the house without our wallet, car keys and wireless phone. That's the direction we are moving in with wireless. And that's the future Facebook wants to be a leader in."

Join the newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Show Comments

Blog Posts

How can a brand remain human in a digital world?

Some commentators estimate that by 2020, 85 per cent of buyer-seller interactions will happen online through social media and video*. That’s only two years away, and pertinent for any marketer.

James Kyd

Global head of brand strategy and marketing, Xero

​Relevance and substance are the keys to marketing’s future

Marketing’s evolution and increased value-add to organisations is making headway in one essential direction: Driving brands to achieve maximum relevance in the heart and minds of customers.

Jean-Luc Ambrosi

Author, marketer

Why doing your job well is the key to innovation

The words ‘power company’ and ‘innovation’ probably don’t seem like a natural combination. In fact, when I first went for a marketing role with an electricity company, I semi-dreaded the work I thought I’d be doing.

Catherine Anderson

Head of marketing, Powershop Australia

Lok knocks it out the park and predicts the future...“People are starting to understand they own their own data, and this will come to a ...


Data regulation key to marketing innovation

Read more

It needs to come from the top. It's not just about buy-in from the leadership team, leadership should be part of the development process ...

Stephen Houraghan

Why getting intimate is key to creating a great customer experience and optimising customer value

Read more

When was this article posted?


Report Reveals the Channels That Really Influence Consumer Purchase Decisions

Read more

sorry, I did not see that my first attempt already posted.


5 ways Australian Unity is driving innovation

Read more

Examples of their "innovation":https://www.accc.gov.au/pub...https://www.accc.gov.au/med...I have had problems with them in their "innova...


5 ways Australian Unity is driving innovation

Read more

Latest Podcast

More podcasts

Sign in