The two hottest words on the internet today are “Facebook” and “phone”. The majority of the time after you see these words they are followed by a negative news article followed by even more negativity in the comments section. This is all expected from the people who write about tech on the internet and even more so from the people who spend their days reading tech sites. The general consensus is that this thing will be a huge flop and nobody is going to buy it. Well I’m going to take a look at the other side of the coin and try to make the argument that not only will people buy the Facebook phone, it will be a success.
Now this isn’t Facebook’s first rodeo when it comes to introducing a phone and it’s also not the first time they have collaborated with HTC, as some of you may remember the HTC ChaCha/Status. The difference between that half assed, glorified feature phone and the one that is about to be released is that both of these companies need this to succeed.
In the first go round Facebook was riding high and making money hand over fist while HTC was considered one of if not THE top Android manufacturer out there. It was easy for them to just slap something together and see what happens and if it didn’t work, not really much of a loss. Fast forward two years and Facebook is seeing the majority of their users viewing the social network with only the smartphone app, which by the way doesn’t serve up ads in a way that can really be monetized, and HTC just went so far all in with their 2013 flagship The One that their CEO has vowed to step down if it isn’t successful. Needless to say they both need some kind of a winner here.
What we are going to see on April 4th will be a well built handset with an extremely polished user interface. We only have to look at some of the things that each company has already released to see where this is headed. Not only has Facebook been toying around with their own camera app that makes sharing to the social network a breeze, but they have been adding more functionality to their dedicated chat app like the ability to make phone calls. For their part HTC has just introduced an innovation called Blinkfeed, a continuous feed of aggregated content right on the home screen. This is so similar to some of the rumors the Facebook phone is supposed to do that you have to wonder if they came up with it first and let HTC customize it for the HTC One.
You’re probably still sitting there shaking your head saying that there is no way in hell you will ever get this phone, and you’re right. The thing is Facebook and HTC know this and it won’t be marketed to hardcore Android or even tech fans for that matter, we all hang on Google Plus. Facebook has seen themselves losing the youth demographic to Vine and Instagram and this phone is going to hit that group hard. The battle is for the hearts and minds of the younger consumer and with most of the tweens and teens doing their social networking on the phone rather than the laptop like their parents, there is no better way to get them than by locking them into your ecosystem.
It’s not like this is uncharted territory either. Amazon took Android and forked it into the very successful Kindle Line of tablets and even an upcoming smartphone. What Facebook and HTC needs to do is offer enough of an ecosystem at an affordable price and they should do just fine. I’ve long been a fan of the original Kindle Fire, a tablet that while not for me is serviceable enough for a gift to a family member who just wants something that “works”.
Only time will tell if my prediction of a successful Facebook smartphone is correct, but if I’m wrong then this could send the social network into an irreversible downward spiral, where I’m sure a lot of you will be lining up to dance on it’s grave.