iPhone's popularity among Facebook staff may have aided in Home's lackluster launch

Posted:
in iPhone edited January 2014
The launch of Facebook's Home layer on Android appears to have been a flop, with relatively low installation rates and even lower user ratings on Google Play thus far. Now, some observers are blaming an unlikely candidate: Apple's iPhone.

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The popularity of Apple's iPhone among Facebook's personnel is one big reason the social network's power grab on the Android platform has sputtered so far, notes TechCrunch. Facebook, it's presumed, simply doesn't have enough dedicated Android users to know what works best on Google's mobile operating system.

Facebook employees reportedly admitted that many of the testers for Home were normally iPhone users and thus were unable to see anything wrong with the changes Home made to a user's Android handset. These included changes like doing away with widgets, removing the dock for oft-used apps, and keeping users from creating app folders.

The problem, at least in part, is that the iPhone is much more popular within Facebook's ranks than Android on the whole. The Facebook app for iOS is more polished, especially on the tablet end.

Last year, the social network began an effort to bring its Android app up to par with its iOS counterpart. The company began requiring app developers to carry Android phones and to use Facebook's Android app in order to see what was wrong with it and how to fix it.

Facebook executives have acknowledged their missteps in creating Home, and the company is readying a new version of the Android skin that will address many user complaints. Users apparently like Cover Feed and Chat Heads, and the app typically leads to users spending 25 percent more time on Facebook. The new version, though, will bring back the dock for most used apps and present users with a walkthrough when they first start up the app.

Facebook Home debuted to much fanfare and attention, but just over a month later the Facebook-themed Android skin has seen little traction among the massive U.S. Android install base. Officially available for six Android handsets, Home, according to Google Play stats, has seen only between a million and five million downloads ? Facebook and Facebook Messenger both have between 100 million and 500 million installs ? and the app recently slipped out of the top 100 Android apps.

Compounding the perception of a flop, the much-hyped "Facebook Phone" ? the HTC First ? has seen sluggish sales since debuting alongside Home. Sources claim that the First has moved fewer than 15,000 units in over a month, and that AT&T is discontinuing the device after having dropped it to $0.99 from $99.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has said the social network would be interested in bringing a Home-like experience to iOS, but that the control Apple exerts over its platform would preclude such a feature. Instead, Facebook has been tweaking its iOS app in order to bring Home-like features such as Chat Heads to iPhones and iPads.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 23
    bleh1234bleh1234 Posts: 146member


    Just wow ...

  • Reply 2 of 23
    john.bjohn.b Posts: 2,716member
    Actually says more about Facebook's dev teams, that they aren't required to "eat their own dog food", than anything else.
  • Reply 3 of 23
    vaguelyvaguely Posts: 5member


    I really wish AI would stop just recycling any old crap it comes across. At least stop and think if a story makes anything remotely resembling sense

     

  • Reply 4 of 23
    chandra69chandra69 Posts: 638member


    That tells... real beauty (iOS) is always TRUE than make up (layer of FB Home on Andro)image

  • Reply 5 of 23
    nagrommenagromme Posts: 2,834member
    "Some observers?" Justify that phrase.

    This is ONE person making stuff up: Josh Constantine at Tech Crunch.

    His headline and lead sentence:

    [I]"[B]Facebook's iPhone Culture Builds An Overzealous Home On Android:[/B]

    Facebook didn't realize just how important widgets, docks, and app folders were to Android users, and that leaving them out of Home was a huge mistake. That's because some of the Facebookers who built and tested Home normally carry iPhones, I've confirmed."[/I]

    Confirmed? No. That doesn't even make the most basic level of sense. iPhone DOES have a dock and app folders. (And even some limited pull-down widgets, if you think THAT is the lone reason Facebook Home is a poor idea.)

    Maybe he "confirmed" that most of Facebook's team prefer the iPhone (pretty reasonable) but he did not "confirm" that this made them think a frequent-app dock and folders aren't important. If FB failed to test their own product--or simply came up with something unwanted--that's Facebook's fault, not "overzealous" iPhone users allowing Android be too much like iPhone. Absurd.


    Step 1: Turn ANYTHING anti-Apple. No facts needed: invent a fiction. (See also today's story about a jetliner's compasses having a problem that resolved itself around the same time someone turned off their iPhone. Wow, that's some magnetic field on that iPhone! Way stronger than solar activity, the plane's own iPads, the refrigerator, or all the other people accidentally running electronics that nobody noticed!)

    Step 2. Profit from ads!

    Step 3. Trust every other site to repeat your claim--they want ad bait too!


    EDIT: Diseases are Apple's fault, because touchscreens harbor bacteria. You heard it here first!
  • Reply 6 of 23
    damn_its_hotdamn_its_hot Posts: 1,180member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by vaguely View Post


    I really wish AI would stop just recycling any old crap it comes across. At least stop and think if a story makes anything remotely resembling sense

     



     


    Nice first post -- welcome to the site.

  • Reply 7 of 23


    No matter what Apple does, the stock is going lower.


     


    Look at AMZN, GOOG, NFLX, LNKD, FB, MSFT P/E. Even dell lol  


     


    Wall Street wants to punish this company no matter what. Bye Bye Cook :)

     

  • Reply 8 of 23
    chandra69chandra69 Posts: 638member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by helicopterben View Post


    No matter what Apple does, the stock is going lower.


     


    Look at AMZN, GOOG, NFLX, LNKD, FB, MSFT P/E. Even dell lol  


     


    Wall Street wants to punish this company no matter what. Bye Bye Cook :)

     



    Where are the guys who keep saying "APPLE IS DOOMED" image

  • Reply 9 of 23
    macrulezmacrulez Posts: 2,455member


    deleted

  • Reply 10 of 23
    Facebook staff liking their iPhones too much doesn't seem like a likely cause for the failure of Facebook Home, even if it does account for an implied lack of understanding about Android.

    I would suggest that the real cause is that they built something that very few people wanted. I wonder if they did much user testing, or if a need for secrecy made it hard to share the product with users before release? It'll be interesting to see if Facebook learns from this mistake and rethinks the product, or whether they just make incremental improvements to address complaints. I suspect the latter would lead to the project eventually being abandoned.
  • Reply 11 of 23
    jbleniojblenio Posts: 27member
    I use a Samsung Galaxy S3, and downloaded the Facebook Home app and used it for a day. At the end of that day, I realized I didn't want to be connected through Facebook all day. I didn't want new photos popping up of what my friends were doing, or status updates about where they were eating. It just seemed overkill. I use Facebook to check up on my friends, then I step away from it to go about my day. I didn't want Facebook pinging me all day.
  • Reply 12 of 23
    woochiferwoochifer Posts: 365member


    John Gruber at Daring Fireball cut right through the BS on this article.


     


    Quote:


    Is it possible that Facebook Home has fallen flat on Android because it was designed by iPhone users? That’s certainly possible. But more likely, it seems to me, is that Facebook Home is just a bad idea.



     


    That's really the crux of Facebook Home's failure right there.  It's an engineering solution in search of a problem (at least a problem for Facebook users, the problem for Facebook comes down to monetization).  I'm a regular Facebook user, but I certainly don't have any desire to see Facebook take over the home screen on my devices.  I use a lot of apps other than Facebook, and I prefer to use Facebook at my convenience, not theirs.


     


    What's especially scary (for Facebook) is that these failures in basic functionality are already apparent to the average user.  Yet, Facebook has yet to even deploy Facebook Home's real purpose -- serving up billboard-style ads on the home screen.  If users already hate Facebook Home, imagine how they will react when those intrusive slide shows featuring your friends' photos start scrolling advertisements. 


     


    IMO, the fatal flaw of the article is reflective of tech journalism in general -- it focuses on the "missing features" that Facebook Home creates, in very much the same way that Android-biased reviewers take a blindered focus on specs and feature checklists.  It's no surprise that the author circles back to checking off  Android features that Facebook Home deprecates, and assuming that these features go missing because the programmers are nothing more than iSheep trying to transplant their favored OS onto the purportedly superior Android (which must be superior because its feature list is longer). 


     


    But, Gruber also picks this argument apart by applying the author's logic to iOS.


     


    Quote:


    As I said last week, it’s a well-designed implementation of an idea no one wants. Would iPhone users want this? I can’t see why. And if the problem is that Facebook Home designers are iPhone users, it might explain why they didn’t see the appeal of widgets, but how would it explain the lack of a persistent app dock or app folders? The iPhone has those. I suspect most iPhone users would miss them if they were able to install Facebook Home.



     


    And the parting shot in Gruber's article questions whether Mark Zuckerberg himself uses Facebook Home, which says something about the product itself. 


     


    Quote:


    There is a dogfooding lesson here, though. Does Mark Zuckerberg carry an HTC First, or any other Android phone with Facebook Home installed? Does Mike Matas? (Doesn’t look like it, judging by the “via Twitter for iPhone” metadata on his recent tweets.) Why not?


     


    It’s always a sign of trouble when you’ve built something you don’t want to use yourself. Why does everyone I know who works at Apple carry an iPhone? Every single one? Not because they have to. It’s because they want to.




     


    The product really should speak for itself.  Maybe it's just me, but those "androidfooding" posters at Facebook (shown in the Techcrunch article) are eerily reminiscent of old Eastern Bloc propaganda posters. 

  • Reply 13 of 23
    sflocalsflocal Posts: 4,244member
    But....but... Android has 256 BILLION activations, and 12.75 TRILLION app downloads!!! How can this be??? /s
  • Reply 14 of 23
    lkrupplkrupp Posts: 6,400member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by sflocal View Post



    But....but... Android has 256 BILLION activations, and 12.75 TRILLION app downloads!!! How can this be??? /s


     


    It's all about perception, my friend. Reality has nothing to do with it. The powers that be have decided to take Apple down, and they're doing it plain and simple. Finance and Politics are  just different manifestations of the same thing. Plant the seeds of doubt, water them regularly, and watch the perceptions bloom. It's the money, stupid!

  • Reply 15 of 23
    dasanman69dasanman69 Posts: 12,963member
    woochifer wrote: »
    John Gruber at Daring Fireball
    And the parting shot in Gruber's article questions whether Mark Zuckerberg himself uses Facebook Home, which says something about the product itself. 

    I'd say most CEOs don't use the product their companies make, that's hardly a revelation.
  • Reply 16 of 23
    hill60hill60 Posts: 6,989member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by sflocal View Post



    But....but... Android has 256 BILLION activations, and 12.75 TRILLION app downloads!!! How can this be??? /s


     


    ...and, and no-one wants tiny iPhone screens, they want screens inverse to their penis size.

  • Reply 17 of 23
    isteelersisteelers Posts: 738member
    No matter what Apple does, the stock is going lower.

    Look at AMZN, GOOG, NFLX, LNKD, FB, MSFT P/E. Even dell lol  

    Wall Street wants to punish this company no matter what. Bye Bye Cook :)

     

    "It's Cook's fault" is the new "It's Bush's fault". What's does your comment even have to do with the article? It's not his fault that Facebook built an app that no one seems to like. Get some new material.
  • Reply 18 of 23
    ankleskaterankleskater Posts: 1,287member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by dasanman69 View Post





    I'd say most CEOs don't use the product their companies make, that's hardly a revelation.




    Are you saying that Robert MacDonald, CEO of Proctor & Gamble, doesn't use tampons or oil of Olay?

  • Reply 19 of 23
    ankleskaterankleskater Posts: 1,287member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by iSteelers View Post





    "It's Cook's fault" is the new "It's Bush's fault". What's does your comment even have to do with the article? It's not his fault that Facebook built an app that no one seems to like. Get some new material.




    Well, Cook is hardly in the Bush league.

  • Reply 20 of 23
    ankleskaterankleskater Posts: 1,287member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Woochifer View Post


    John Gruber at Daring Fireball cut right through the BS on this article.


     


     


    That's really the crux of Facebook Home's failure right there.  It's an engineering solution in search of a problem


     



    what engineering solution would that be?

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