No surprise, there is an amazing amounts of buzz around the Facebook Home launch, and well over 500,000 downloads in the first 10 days (though with some pretty poor user reviews) And considering the relatively fluffy cover piece in Fortune this week timed to coincide with the Home launch, it’s clear that the “House of Zuck” is borrowing straight from the Steve Jobs product launch playbook. To that I say, Well Done!
I am not going to try to add to the dialogue on if Home is any good or not. The numbers and opinions will surely change rapidly. As a recent iPhone convert (from a Blackberry, gasp!) Home will not encourage me to make the switch to Android. And when my nearly teenage daughter gets her first cell phone this summer, it will probably be an Android device, but I will not be downloading the App for her either.
You see, I am just not sure I am ready for Facebook to be THAT ingrained in my life.
I wrote some time ago about whether or not Facebook was becoming a classic walled garden along the lines of AOL in its early heyday. You can read that post if you would like (Is Facebook Now the Internet?), but the point was simply that as more and more brands adopted Facebook, and promoted their presence on it, the web experience would be different if you just lived in Facebook without exploring the broader web.
While there is no chance we will ever go back to the AOL days (remember the disks of free hours?) I remain convinced that your web experience is going to be increasingly influenced by your network. As a result, my web experience will be different from your web experience. And once the web becomes merely a conglomeration of individualized experiences, things like Home will not be as jarring for many of us.
And consider this. 10+ years ago we didn’t really expect to be worshipping at the “Altar of iJobs” either. And yet, Jobs and Apple managed to disrupt the music industry and phone industry in short order. (Yes, you can argue the PC disruption thing too, but I think one Gates, Bill might have something to say on that one!) Apple has dramatically changed how consumers think about their devices, and really, their life. (also well documented by others) While Android continues to make inroads as a device platform, I don’t think Google is anywhere close to having the same sort of connected power across platforms that Apple has mastered.
As the Fortune article reveals, Home is a fundamental re-think of how Facebook is approaching mobile. From this path however, It’s not a very big leap to Facebook becoming our interface to the world at large across every connected device we use—from phone to tablet to PC, to TV, to Google Glass, to your car dashboard. And if the House of Zuck is indeed borrowing a page from Jobs, 5 years from now we could be wondering what all the fuss was about.
Stay tuned, it’s going to be a fascinating ride!