Facebook phone – hit or miss?

The rumours on the net would suggest that the reality of a Facebook phone is more than merely a concept, so with that in mind let’s suggest that it will shortly come to pass and consider how such a device would be received by the mainstream consumer.

Facebook and its fall from grace?

It’s no secret that Facebook has had its fair share of scandal and unhappy users voicing their opinions on the global forum that is the net.  Ironically in many cases the social network set up to provide a communication service has been used to voice the issues users have with it.  A testament to its success? I’ll let you decide.

Looking at how new features are received and the general feeling about FB, I think its fair to say that the honeymoon period of FB is over.  I have always remarked that mainstream consumer loyalty is transient and history shows (MySpace for example) that if you offer a few “new” features, wrap it up in a pretty front end the mainstream will come a running.   Throw a few personality deficient celebrities on there and your rise to the top will be even quicker.

Google plus is already showing that it takes very little to attract the mainstream user on nothing more than a few extra features and a shiny new interface.

We’ve been here before?

Whilst Microsoft struggles to get interest in WP7, its often forgot that the ailing firm from Redmond have already been here before courtesy of the doomed Kin, even proclamations by Microsoft MVPs as it being the “greatest social networking phone ever” didn’t save it from failure, with the lifespan of the device lasting only 60 or so days.  I would like the Microsoft advocates who came to Openbytes when I predicted the failure of the Kin to maybe retract their protestations that they voiced at my views at the time.   That won’t happen, there’s a new Microsoft phone to make claims about and sell, I would think they have forgotten all about the Kin which not only serves as an uncomfortable reminder of failure but maybe also a reminder in  general about Microsoft’s doomed mobile strategy.

Facebook phone a fail?

If anyone is silly enough to take this past a rumour/concept stage then yes, a total failure.  I think the mainstream user (and let’s face it, the only person who would even entertain the notion of buying a phone like this) is rapidly falling out of love with Facebook.  I think the hold Facebook has now is not so much on its feature set but rather more due to mainstream users being reticent to be the first in their social group to make the jump elsewhere.

What is also interesting is that Microsoft is rumoured to be trying it on with another “me too” product by way of its social network Socl, which when you consider that they are still trying to sell WP7 and have an impending release of 8 introducing an interesting new variable especially when you consider that Microsoft invested in Facebook.

On the subject of investments the Inquirer writes an interesting article here, where its suggested that Facebook’s IPO could raise as high as 10 billion dollars.  Am I the only person who is skeptical on tech trends which can drop as quickly as they gained momentum?  Can anyone see Facebook going strong 2 or 3 years from now, or, is it more likely that there will be a new service having the mainstream proclaiming “its the greatest” (whilst the novelty lasts).

I don’t believe a mass simultaneous exodus from Facebook will occur, I think we will see a drip, drip effect over the next year and ergo, a Facebook phone is doomed to failure.  Nice idea, if it could have come out in the honeymoon period where Facebook could do no wrong.  Besides, isn’t a more open, less locked in phone what everyone wants today? – certainly Android sales would suggest that.

And on the subject of phones, this article was written entirely with a HTC Desire running Android!

Tim (Goblin)

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5 thoughts on “Facebook phone – hit or miss?

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  1. I think the hold Facebook has now is not so much on its feature set but rather due to mainstream users being reticent to be the first in their social group to make the jump elsewhere.

    The hold that Facebook has comes down to a couple of things:

    1) It is a really convenient way to communicate.
    2) The software is more advanced than Diaspora at present.
    3) The ability to setup private invisible groups for collaboration. This is a killer, especially when a lot of people are already on Facebook anyway.

    At present Facebook is the best option available. If someone develops something better, then you will see a migration. But it will have to be better.

    Remember the IPhone? For all its faults, it was a better phone. And it still is when you add together all of the features (ITunes, App Store, hardware, OS software). The competition is catching up.

    Of course every time the competition catches up, Apple introduces something new, driving the competition to work harder. That’s great for mobile phone users.


    1. Hi Wayne…. I’ll address your points if I may:

      1&3 I think are linked, its convenient because your friends are there. The “forum” side of Facebook is something which has been out since the net began…true its wrapped up in a fancy interface, but fundamentally, its really no different to Usenet (albeit with a few extra’s)

      As for Diaspora, thats more of a move away from a facebookesq environment with its decentralized network and its respect for ownership of data.

      Theres G+ which also offers the service (with extra’s on Facebook) and I think its held back not by a feature rich Facebook but more convenience of the one stop shop for your contacts (as you highlight in point 3).

      Mainstream consumer loyalty is transient, but forgetting that, a Facebook phone I think would be percieved as a far too restrictive phone in an age where thousands of pointless apps are the draw…..of course it could merely be a Facebook badged Android phone but then haven’t people already got an app for their phone which gives them all the features they need if they use Facebook?

      “Remember the IPhone? For all its faults, it was a better phone.”

      🙂 But then the Iphone is not marketed as a single purpose phone (like the Facebook phone suggests). Whilst people complain about Apple lockdown, I think the iPhone appears far more “open” than a “Facebook phone” which I cannot see will offer anything for Facebook users which they cannot already get from a Facebook app on whatever OS they are running.

  2. I agree with your article. I personally don`t see the value of owning a Facebook branded phone. Admittedly I HATE Facebook so a product like this has no sway on me whatsoever. I seriously doubt it would even on die-hard Facebook users. Simple question, beyond Facebook what is the killer feature of a one trick pony device like this? Or is deep Facebook integration the “killer app”?

    1. I think this is the point you’ve managed to wrap up in a single reply…. users want more from a phone than a one trick pony and in addition I think the Facebook honeymoon period is over. Id say by the end of 2012 the transient mainstream will be starting to have a different services name on their lips.

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