Facebook Home

Facebook has officially announced Facebook Home.  From The Verge:

Home is a family of Facebook apps that overhauls your entire device, turning it into a Facebook phone. An app called Coverfeed overhauls the homescreen and the lockscreen, giving you updates on what your friends are doing without you having to launch an app, or even unlock your phone

It’s actually a smart move.  By layering on top of Android and not forking it they’re removing some of the obstacles encountered with devices like the Kindle Fire and answered some of the questions I’d previously raised.

There are two key sticking point for me (well three, but the third is that I don’t use nor like Facebook and that’s somewhat insurmountable), monetisation and privacy.  And shockingly for Facebook, the two are closely interlinked.

“There are no ads in this yet, I’m sure that one day there will be,” said Mark Zuckerberg when asked about how Facebook Home would make money.

So to be clear, that’s ads on your homescreen.  But not just on your homescreen.  Facebook Home also features messaging support.  Back to The Verge:

Messaging is one of the key features of Facebook Home – Zuckerberg made no bones about believing the way we currently message is broken […] It works with SMS and Facebook messaging, but Chat heads try to obscure which you’re actually using — it’s all about who you’re chatting with, not what service you’re using to do so.

It’s a similar approach to Apple’s with iMessage.  You go in to the Messages app and Apple will try and use iMessage and fall back to SMS or MMS if the recipient isn’t able to receive iMessage messages.  The key difference is that Apple monetises this through device purchases, Facebook will monetise through adverts.

That presents a different problem for me.  I have a Facebook account but I don’t use Facebook.  Will I now start receiving a bunch of Facebook messages from friends who think they’re sending me a text message?  And will those friends have to associate my contact with my Facebook account, giving more information about me to Facebook without my knowledge.  Again. And then wrapping ads around my responses.