If you are anything like me, then you have been following everything leading up to today’s Facebook announcement with great anticipation to find out what Zuckerberg has up his sleeve. Attendees of the event, held at the Facebook headquarters in Menlo Park, received a unique invitation that said ‘A small team has been working on a big idea. Join us for coffee and learn more about a new product’ which only built the mystery up even more. Though there were many speculations of what new product would be revealed, we now know!
“Today we’re finally going to talk about that Facebook phone,” Mark Zuckerberg announced. Over the past few years there has been a lot of talk about the social powerhouse creating its own mobile device, and now that light has been shed on the new product, we have a better understanding of how this will be rolling out.
Zuckerberg put to rest all of the rumors that his company would be creating the actual hardware, and instead spoke about how their software will be coupled with Android based phones. After the initial announcement of the new product, he said, “…more accurately, we’re going to talk about how you can turn your Android phone into a great social device.” If you are an IPhone user like me, this was a bit of a turnoff. Nonetheless, usually when something becomes popular on one system it will be added to others eventually.
Regarding the integration of the Facebook software, he discussed how social updates will appear on the home screen, which he refers to as ‘the soul of your phone’. “You look at it about 100 times a day,” he continued, “It sets the tone for your own experience and we think that it should be deeply personal.” Updates from the network will flow on the screen of these devices, even while locked. This can be an exciting feature for those of you who, like me, love to stay connected.
Also, the ‘chat heads’ that we have all become accustomed to from the updated app will appear on the top of the phones, even when the Facebook app itself is not opened. This will allow users to continue conversations outside of the social network and while doing anything else on their mobile devices.
As many others may start to think how this will be different than current mobile features, the same questions emerge in my head. Why are people going to want this software when there are already so many similar features that can be done with the free app? Does it really matter if they are on the home screen or run while they are not logged on?
To me, in many ways, this software seems to be the first steps towards Facebook integrating with people outside of the digital realm. It is no secret that Zuckerberg has been making strides to be involved with people’s lives outside of the social network, and this seems to be a strategy of expanding and venturing into new territory. They definitely want to have an impact on the physical realm, in order to connect user attitudes and behaviors with their real world interactions, and this appears to be their way of doing so.
The HTC First will be the first phone to be preloaded with this new product, and speculations of the next device have already begun. Being that Zuckerberg arrived at the announcement after meeting with Samsung’s head of mobile and co-CEO in South Korea, this could point towards the next devices to harness it.
Whether or not this product will be successful or go the way of many past flops by the company will depend upon the future user behaviors and attitudes towards it. Regardless, it is obvious to me that Facebook is making strides to be a part of the lives of people even when they are not logged in.