Facebook Home Skin May Not Give it More Face Time

By Peter Bernstein April 05, 2013

The announcement by Facebook of its Home “skin” app which will turn smartphones and tablets into Facebook phones and tablets certainly drew a chorus of praise, denunciation and commentary including my own take on what it meant. It generated a lot of water cooler reactions here at TMC as well as can be seen from the multiple perspectives on our site. As somebody who has a Facebook account but does not live on the social network, I thought it might be interesting to get some reactions from people who do. I did a selective pole of my friends and family and although this is a  totally non-scientific and a small sample, everyone I spoke with was unimpressed and could not see a scenario where they would want Facebook all the time.

What struck me were some of the reasons which you might find interesting:

  1. One person who is not on an unlimited data plan said that this would shatter their bill and that after the first bill most people in a similar situation who are Facebook devotees would ditch the skin after they saw the impact.
  2. My observation of yesterday about this ratcheting up IT concerns about the problems all the time Facebook availability on BYOD devices would create was echoed by several people who thought this actually would constitute an “attractive nuisance.”
  3. With all of that functionality including alerts and new pictures to view, an associate remarked “This is going to kill your battery.” Point well taken.
  4.  I also got a comment about my observation that going with HTC rather than Samsung was smart. The reason was Samsung has its own apps and is certain to view any move to get eyeball hegemony as a direct threat.

The last point is one that really resonated. This is all about occupying the screen to occupy time. While Facebook addicts may like it, especially when connected to Wi-Fi, this move should send shudders through the app development community. It is hard enough to get face time when your app is not on the introductory screen and making it that much more difficult is not good news.  

I also had several people remark that this is just a prelude to advertising on that first look which they would not appreciate. And last but not least was a universal refrain that, “I know how to access what I want, when I want it and how long I wish to use it, and I am a creature of habit.” While this could be just human nature of not liking change, I happen to believe it speaks to another human trait that we enjoy choice and having control, and that appears to be something that Home would like to limit.

As I said at the outset, this was anecdotal. However, my suspicion is as the impact of Facebook’s announcement sets in this is not going to be a case where home is where the heart is. Believe it or not, I happen to like Facebook when I use it and have found it an invaluable means for periodically staying in touch with friends (I can’t count anymore the number of long-lost ones I have reconnected with), but I want to keep it as one tool amongst many I use to communicate by. That is why the word “periodically” is important to me. We shall see how important it is to the now over one billion Facebook users. It may be one thing to live on the net and something else to live on Facebook and have it be our gateway/gate keeper, especially since gatekeepers have a nasty habit of putting up toll booths.   

Edited by Jamie Epstein
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