Facebook Home, the app which CEO Mark Zuckerberg touted as the “next version of Facebook,” has not been an immediate hit. Its Google Play rankings have been dropping steadily after the launch buzz wore off, according to new data from top app store analytics firms. Despite having an active user base of over a billion on the social network itself, the company announced on Thursday that it was just now “nearing” 1 million downloads for its Home app. Plus, AT&T also slashed pricing this week on the HTC First, the first Facebook Home-powered handset, which went from $99 to just $0.99.
The application became available for download on April 12th on Google Play, where only a limited selection of devices were supported: the HTC One X, HTC One X+, Samsung Galaxy S III and Samsung Galaxy Note II. A preloaded version of the app was made available via the HTC First, which officially went on sale that same day. This week, support for the HTC One and Galaxy S4 was also added.
To be fair, the limited rollout is partially responsible for the app’s inability to maintain a higher ranking.
On April 24th, Facebook Home reached its best position on the charts in many of the countries where it was available, but its ranks have declined in several key markets since. Its moves indicate an early rush from curious Android owners, but then a tapering off as word got out that the app wasn’t quite ready for primetime.
App Annie’s data demonstrates this rise, then subsequent fall. Shortly after becoming publicly available, Facebook Home reached #72 overall in the U.S., on April 16th. By April 23th, it had also reached the top 100 overall in 8 countries (Norway, Singapore, Canada, Denmark, Australia, Hong Kong, Hungary, U.K.), and the top 500 in 38 countries. By the end of April, it started to drop, then ranking in the top 500 in 29 countries, and having dropped out of the top 100 worldwide altogether.
It has yet to return to the top 100 in any market.
Distimo’s analysis of the top 500 apps on Google Play, also confirms the same general trends. Towards the end of April (4/29), the firm found that Facebook Home was ranked highest in Luxembourg, where it was #83 overall, and was lowest in Portugal where it was ranked #477, but its ranking was on the decline.
In the chart below, you can see Facebook Home’s top ranks as of 4/29 as well as its ranking change since just a few days prior (4/24), indicated by the small number at the top of each country’s bar.
As of a few days ago (5/8), Distimo found that the picture for Facebook Home has gotten even worse. In key countries including France, Germany, Brazil, and Argentina, Facebook Home remains out of the top 500 overall apps.
And the number of countries where Facebook Home is even ranked is fewer still. (Compare the number of bars in the chart below to the above).
You can also see the ranking decline for the U.S., Germany and Australia, pictured below as a line graph.
App Annie confirms this decline, too. As of May 10th, their data shows Facebook Home is only in the top 500 in 19 countries. And it’s not close to breaking the top 100 in any of these, with #191 being its highest ranking – and that’s in Norway.
Most countries are somewhere in the 300-400 range – for example, the U.S. is #338.
Still Time To Recover?
This is not what you would call a hit.
Even Facebook itself fudged its numbers when discussing Facebook Home traction earlier this week, noting that the app was “nearing 1 million downloads.” Those are downloads, not actives. And as the above data indicates, the app is losing steam on the charts.
That being said, for those who adopt Home, engagement soars. To summarize an earlier report: among those who use the app, 25 percent more time spent on Facebook as a whole, with comments and likes up 25 percent, Chat usage up 7 percent, and messages sent up by 10 percent.
But the goal now is to get more people to download – and then not abandon – the application. Facebook admitted that the replacing people’s custom widgets and app folders was a mistake. [Update: And as Josh Constine writes, that mistake was in part due to Facebook's iPhone culture. Some of the Facebook employees building and testing Home were regularly iPhone users, and didn't realize how big of an issue the missing customizations were.]
Facebook outlined its plans for getting Home back on track, saying it will soon offer a better onboarding experience for new users, add an icon dock (the tray of favorite apps at the bottom of your homescreen), make it easier to initiate chats with a new “Dash Bar,” and will work towards becoming more homescreen layer than replacement, so as not to disrespect the work users have done in customizing their phone.
Time well tell whether or not Facebook can make these changes in time, before it loses further mindshare among early adopters who are now spreading word that the app is a flop.