Google’s statement on Facebook’s introduction of “Home” was short and sweet, but very telling, so let’s dissect it a little bit. As we noted earlier, Facebook went with Android first because of its flexibility. Basically it’s easy to customize.
Other platforms, not so much. Zuckerberg even mentioned that Windows Phone might be a bit easier to work with, calling it out as “somewhere in the middle” of Android and iOS.
Here’s what Google said to us a little while ago:
The Android platform has spurred the development of hundreds of different types of devices. This latest device demonstrates the openness and flexibility that has made Android so popular.
You’ll notice that the first thing that the company says is that there are “hundreds” of different types of devices running its mobile operating system. In the past, that’s been seen as a bad thing, due to fragmentation. Here, Google is clearly positioning this as an advantage, that is has more choices for consumers than say, Apple has.
Secondly, “this latest device,” being the HTC First, which is pre-installed with Facebook Home, demonstrates flexibility. There’s that word again. Clearly, Google is firing a rocket at its competitor Apple, which is notoriously very stiff when it comes to customization. In Apple’s mind, its users don’t know what they want to see until it shows it to them. By letting a company like Facebook take over the first experience users have when they wake up their phone, they are giving away pretty much everything. Again, Google points this out as a competitive advantage.
In an extended version of the statement to VentureBeat, Google made sure to pump up its own products at the same time:
And it’s a win for users who want a customized Facebook experience from Google Play — the heart of the Android ecosystem — along with their favorite Google services like Gmail, Search, and Google Maps.
In this added bit, Google makes sure to bring the attention back to its baked-in Android services, like search, email and maps. Is that Google getting a little bit jealous of all of the fuss over Facebook? Not at all. These companies are competitive in the sense that they’re both after eyeballs, but when it comes to social interactions, they couldn’t be more different. Forget the Google+ argument here; it wasn’t built to be a competitor to Facebook. Google owns search and email for a reason, they’re better products than what others offer.
Both Facebook and Google are the winners here. Facebook doesn’t have to build its own phone or operating system, and Google gets to keep pointing out the fact that customization is something that consumers want, and Apple doesn’t deliver on. The two companies are using each other, and as MG Siegler pointed out, are strange bedfellows.
Yes, Facebook has partnered with Apple to bring users a way to update a status message quicker, but it’s clear after seeing Facebook Home today, that it’s simply not enough interaction for the social network. For those who spend a good bit of time using Facebook on their mobile device, they will soon tire of having to wake up their phone, find the Facebook app, open it and read their notifications. Once they see a friend or colleague with the HTC First or another Android device with Facebook Home installed, they will wonder why they can’t do the same thing on their iPhone.
Other companies like Facebook are going to start getting interested in this approach as well, as far as introducing customized launchers for their user base. Tumblr founder and CEO David Karp was at the Home event today, don’t you think he might go back to New York City and talk to his team about what a Tumblr-themed version of Android would look and act like? Of course he is. What about Dropbox’s Drew Houston, who was also at the event? Could filesharing become a driving force of your mobile experience? It depends on what type of user you are.
Don’t get me wrong, Apple isn’t in the corner crying right now, but some folks at the company have to be looking at today’s news and starting to think of ways to win back developers who want to follow Facebook’s lead and might start focusing on Android first.
Facebook Home has finally made the Android/Open vs. iOS/Closed a mainstream issue.
[Photo credit: Flickr]