With the release of the HTC First, the world was introduced to Facebook Home, a unique Android skin centered around communicating via Facebook’s channels. It was the first time that a major company released a major overhaul to the Android user interface since Amazon. While it was initially only available on the HTC First, it was quickly released into the Google Play Store, undermining the First’s exclusivity and ultimately destroying any chance of the device’s success.
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With the release of Home, Facebook stated that it would ultimately like to have the software pre-installed on many different phones right out of the box. That however doesn’t seem to be probable as it appears that no major hardware manufacturers are even remotely interested in the software. While we already heard a report that Mark Zuckerberg had flown to South Korea to meet with Samsung executives only to be shot down, it now seems that more manufacturers have come forward to express their lack of interest in Facebook’s unusual Android facelift.
In a new report, it seems that in addition to Samsung, manufacturers like Sony, Huawei, ZTE and Lenovo have all declined to work on Facebook Home devices. It is unclear as to whether Facebook has approached these companies directly or they were just simply voicing their opinions to save Facebook the trouble.
While there are plenty of reasons to hate the software, there is undoubtedly interest in Chat Heads, perhaps the only popular and innovative feature of the software. Chat Heads are Facebook’s unique method of notifying you of messages via a pop-up with the “head” or face of the person sending the message. The concept is actually quite brilliant and will undoubtedly be adopted or borrowed by other companies looking to provide a similar form of message notification. However, it is clear that this particular feature is not enough to carry the software to success.
It isn’t quite clear as to why Facebook is trying to push its way into such a crowded market. The Android ecosystem is already well established and custom skins are only well received if they offer extra features that stock Android doesn’t offer. Samsung and HTC have both seen success along these lines as they have the sales numbers to prove it. Perhaps the company wants to challenge Google+ more significantly as the platform has grown to become a bigger threat than ever before. Regardless of the motives, Facebook needs to understand that users do not want and completely new Android experience based around a single application. They may see success if they are able to make the experience less intrusive and couple it with top of the line specifications.