Facebook Home
Facebook fans who were expecting the social network to unveil its own proprietary smartphone Thursday have a long wait ahead of them, seeing the as company isn't building a phone or an operating system.

Rather, explained CEO Mark Zuckerberg during a press conference at the company's headquarters, Facebook (FB) is introducing a mobile experience it's calling "Home," which makes the social network the hub of any smartphone that runs Google Inc.'s (GOOG) Android operating system.

Zuckerberg said the goal is put "people before apps." To achieve that, Home replaces users' home screen on their phones and includes a suite of applications, or apps. As Engadget explains:

"It's not just a new user-interface for launching apps, however. It replaces the 'lockscreen' with cover feed and prioritizes updates from people instead of apps. There is a standard paginated launcher that is always just a swipe away. But the focus is on the full-screen images that are your new welcome screen."

"What Facebook wants is to put itself at the front of the Android user experience for as many Facebook users as possible and make Facebook more elemental to their customers' experience," Forrester analyst Charles Golvin told The Associated Press.

As Fortune notes, Home is a way for Facebook to supplant Google by pushing the search-engine giant's prized services, including search maps and Gmail, into the background on Android phones, pushing users to use Facebook's offerings instead.

Home will be limited to phones running the Ice Cream Sandwich and Jelly Bean versions of Android -- i.e., 4.0 and later. That covers phones made or updated during the past year or so.

Initially, the app will be limited to specific Android models -- about a half-dozen of them, including Samsung's Galaxy S III and Galaxy Note 2. It will also work on the upcoming Galaxy S IV. In addition, HTC's upcoming First phone will come with Home.

But the move could also help boost mobile advertising, a fast-growing field -- thanks largely to Facebook and Twitter. Research firm eMarketer expects U.S. mobile ad spending to grow 77 percent this year to $7.29 billion, from $4.11 billion last year.

Showing more mobile ads to users poses challenges for Facebook, however, since the promotional ads may annoy or alienate Facebook users.

Check out Facebook's Home:

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Just what I needed, more advertising in my life....Facebook has become obnoxious.

April 04 2013 at 4:03 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply