Facebook exec: We're committed to Home for Android

Facebook (NASDAQ:FB) continues to support its Home launcher for Google's (NASDAQ:GOOG) Android platform, and will do more to enhance the experience for Home, according to a Facebook executive.

Facebook Home, unveiled in early April, is an alternative homescreen that pushes the company's mobile services to the forefront of the Android user interface. Last fall Facebook added to Home support for its own Instagram photo-sharing app as well as rival media sharing platforms Pinterest, Tumblr and Flickr. However, Home was much maligned last year and never really gained the traction Facebook wanted after introducing it with such fanfare. Home been installed fewer than 5 million times, according to the Google Play store's stats cited by the Guardian, with a 2.8-star rating (out of five) from reviewers.

However, that doesn't mean the social networking giant is done with Home just yet. "We're still very bullish on Home. We're not done with Home," Jocelyn Goldfein, an engineering director who joined the company in 2010, told VentureBeat. "I think part of the problem is launching with such fanfare at [version] 1.0. No startup launching at 1.0 would get that much coverage."

"I think it takes time, when you're building something genuinely new and disruptive … it takes time to get it right," she said. "I think we did a really good job with the polish, which is part of why I think it got such almost fawning coverage at the outset. But I don't know that we made it valuable to users from the outset."

She added that "it's not like we just need to market it better, or distribute it better. We actually are consciously not trying to do those things until we feel like we've really built something that's really valuable."

Still, despite Home's weak reception, Facebook's mobile strategy is still going strong in general. Mobile advertising revenue represented approximately 53 percent of advertising revenue in the fourth quarter, up from 49 percent in the third quarter and 23 percent in the year-ago period. The company said mobile daily active users totaled 556 million for December 2013, an increase of 49 percent year-over-year.

Facebook recently introduced its Paper app for iOS, which Goldfein expounded upon. The app is similar in visual style to the news reader Flipboard app, and users click through content like status updates, photos and news stories by swiping through a deck of cards.

"I think one of the things that we've learned is that there's only so much functionality you can put into any one application. And I think users have an expectation that the Facebook app is all about their News Feed and the core Facebook experiences," she said. "We definitely are seeing the power of introducing additional apps from Facebook, which aren't necessarily a subset of features from the Facebook app but which give you different ways to interact with your social graph and the content that's out there."

Goldfein also said that Paper's user interface is "one of the most polished, beautiful things that Facebook has done. But it's not just a News Feed consumption app. … We've always been thinking about how do we make the News Feed not just a place for entertainment, but a place where you have to go, where you don't want to miss what's coming through."

For more:
- see this VentureBeat article 
- see this Guardian article

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