Friday, 5 April 2013

Facebook Home: Clearly someone wasn't thinking

Honestly, you can't blame Facebook for thinking new Facebook Home is going to change the world... for them it probably seemed like an excellent idea (for them)... just think of all that wonderful data they could capture by being permanently on a user's home screen... all... that... data. It's the stuff Facebook drools itself to sleep about.

But there's just one problem. What's in it for the user? Facebook's promotional materials say we'll have a constant stream of our friends fab photos and posts... how cool is that?! But they clearly haven't thought this through because Facebook Home dramatically fails the 'real world' test.

Let's be clear, my friends are an awesome bunch of people, that's why we're friends. They have some interesting views, do cool things and they are kind enough to want share them. Some of my friends are also keen amateur photographers, but most of them are like me and... well, the stuff we post on Facebook wouldn't win any prizes, it's just there to capture a moment... sort of like a Monet painting, but without use of light, or composition, or the ponds or bridges, or the artistic merit... and it's mostly shit.

So the though of a steady stream of such photos filling my screen is really rather horrifying. Added to that there will be all the comments that come with such shots and you have a ready-made way to pollute my phone with stuff I really don't want to see... ALL THE TIME.

On the other hand, like many people though, I am lucky enough to have friends who are pretty good at photography. Naturally, when composing shots, they tend to like a range of formats - landscape, panorama landscape, portrait... or square format as used by Instagram. They don't shoot in the highly idiosyncratic tall portrait format that would be demanded of Facebook Home, so even their wonderful shots will be ruined as well. In fact, with the release of Facebook Home, Facebook has just effectively screwed Instagram (and I'd just gotten good at composing square photos!)

So there it is, Facebook Home, the more I think about this, the more I think they weren't thinking at all!


  1. No to mention the advertising and other crap that would be pushed before your eyeballs. Most people I know tolerate FB. It has the market share but I don't know that it has much in the way of enthusiasm or love from it's users. I really don't know who would want it as their home page. Facebook is still seeking a way to monetise all those users and data. This isn't it.

  2. I'm reasonably ok with FB advertising - i figure no service is for free and I get use out of it. My problem with FB ads as I've said before is that despite the huge amount of info they have about me and who I do and like, the ads are poorly targeted and therefore much more annoying than they should be.

  3. That is a good point. I mean essentially the real benefit is for Facebook and it's advertisers. That old quote going around is so true "If something is free you are not the customer but the product that is being sold."

    The future in online advertising is on the smart phone and tablet. These have much smaller screen real estate than a desktop hence possibly the delay in a dedicated and reliable facebook app. They obviously hadn't figured out a way to sell advertising on the smart phone and were not about to risk us all swapping over without a gameplan to deliver advertising on the smartphone. This is the solution obviously, a solution for Facebook sold as a 'benefit' to the user.

    Although the service is useful and I totally appreciate it needs a way to generate revenue I can't imagine wanting Facebook with it's targeted advertising and background data mining all over my phone like a cheap suit. My phone is more personal than a desktop, it sits in my pocket and goes everywhere I go it's not something that would appeal to me at all.
    But it must be sold as an innovtive and useful 'free' tool to the user. When in fact it really benefits facebook and its advertisers giving them a foothold in the future battleground of advertising. Advertising in your pocket that follows you everywhere you go.

  4. If you stop thinking of FB Home as a final product, but simply a minimal viable mobile product then it starts to make more sense. This is just the next step in their – up to now sluggish – mobile strategy. Their press release gives a clue to what that may be, "Home isn't a phone or operating system, and it's also more than just an app." They had to grow out of the app ecosystem if they are to dominate the mobile world. Making phones and OSs is hard. They need to start somewhere. It actually reminds me of the iTunes phone, that Motorola nonsense from 2005. Apple needed to start somewhere too. Look how horrible that was.

    I think the disconnect comes from the gratuitously over marketed launch. I doubt that Mark Z really thinks that "Facebook Home is going to change the world." Though I'm sure he believes that it will become important as they learn and grow; most likely into some kind of OS. The fact that they needed partners to make this happen also meant that they needed to make a big splash.

    I agree that the product may not have been conceived in a user-centred manner. But they no doubt think it has enough desirability to attract a useful slice of users. That in turn should provide them some insight (not necessarily just data-driven), experience and partnerships to guide their future moves. Sometimes you just need to ship something different to see where it, and you, could go next.