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Zuckerberg on Mobile Apps: ‘Facebook is Not One Thing’

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Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said the company’s latest mission is to “unbundle the big blue app” and provide disparate experiences on mobile with or without the Facebook name

“Facebook is not one thing, he told The New York Times. “On desktop where we grew up, the mode that made the most sense was to have a website, and to have different ways of sharing built as features within a website. So when we ported to mobile, that’s where we started — this one big blue app that approximated the desktop presence.”

Chief among Facebook’s efforts to diversify its mobile portfolio is the $19 billion bid to purchase WhatsApp. Zuckerberg justified the expense by noting that the messaging space is bigger than the company realized and that consumers use it differently than Facebook’s Messenger. Read more…

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Facebook Tries Salvaging Home With Redesign That Makes Its Lockscreen More Familiar

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Facebook’s Home has been a bit of a flop, with few users willing to so drastically change the face of their phone. Today Facebook launched a redesign that makes Home more familiar to a traditional lockscreen by overlaying phone and Facebook notifications, a clock, and weather info on top of Cover Feed and giving users more customization options. The hope is by making Home seem like less of a shock, more users will adopt it.

The new version of Home went into testing with Facebook’s beta community in November but will become available to everyone in the Google Play store over the next hour or so.

It shows time, weather, and notifications overlaid on your lockscreen for instant viewing. You can swipe left to view the Cover Feed of full-screen photos and posts. A shortcut to bring up Cover Feed has been added to the Home launcher, and you can choose a wallpaper as well. The update falls short of letting you add fully customizable widgets to your lockscreen like you can with other Android versions and downloadable lockscreens. Still, it makes Home less foreign, which is a step in the right direction if it wants more usage.

Here you can watch Facebook’s one minute demo of the new Home features.

06 Home Settings mainWhen Home launched in April, it basically steamrolled over your existing Android phone’s customization. There were no folders, no widgets, no dock of favorite apps. This made people feel like they had to sacrifice the phone experience they’d grown accustomed to live with Home, and many felt it wasn’t worth it. Traction was weak, and CEO Mark Zuckerberg has admitted he wasn’t full satisfied with how Home has progressed. As of now, it still only has between one million and five million downloads, while Facebook’s main Android app has well over 200 million active users.

I wrote in May how Facebook needed to make Home more of a social layer on top of your existing Android set-up rather than a replacement. By July Facebook had begun shifting in this direction by allowing you to customize a favorite apps dock, create folders, and crucially, import your existing folders.

Today’s redesign could be seen as an extension of this push to make Home more of a complement than a replacement for how you interact with your phone.

Since launching, Facebook has seen several new competitors enter the lockscreen and launcher market. Rather than a more one-dimensional experience around Facebook or another app, Cover and Aviate are contextual interfaces that try to show you the right apps at the right time, like your work apps while you’re at the office and your personal apps at…home. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Facebook acquire a startup in this space to bolster its lockscreen and launcher efforts.

Home promised an interface that put friends ahead of apps. But in reality, we use our phone for so many things beyond social networking that burying apps and widgets made Faceboo Home for of a roadblock. To make Home succeed, Facebook may need to retreat from its initial strategy, and find a compromise where friends and apps are loved equally, rather than making us play favorites.

Screenshots of the new version of Home rolling out on Android today are below.


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Instagram, Other Social Content Coming To Facebook’s Home Lockscreen Says Zuckerberg, As Home Rollout ‘Slower’ Than Hoped

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Mark Zuckerberg, the CEO of Facebook, today said that Facebook is working on a new version of the Home lockscreen that will feature Instagram and third-party social content, based on requests from users of the service. The comments came today as he also admitted that Facebook’s Home Android launcher has been “rolling out slower” than he would have hoped.

Speaking today at TC Disrupt, Zuckerberg also said that while Facebook took gradual steps with Home, offering it through the Google Play store, at some point it will also start promoting it directly through Facebook.

“We will prompt people at Facebook,” he said, “You won’t have to go to the app store to get it. It’s not super far off.”

Right now on the Google Play store, the number of installs of the Facebook Home app is noted as between 1 million and 5 million. After its first month of life, the app had seen only around 1 million downloads amid waning interest from carriers like AT&T, which had signed up early to sell HTC handsets with Home preloaded on it. Meanwhile, Orange in Europe axed its rollout before it even started.

In answer to a question from interviewer Michael Arrington about whether he saw Home as a failure, Zuckerberg noted that among the positives, people “love Chatheads.”

The moves indicate that while Facebook may not have seen the early jump on the service that it wanted, it’s not going to be retreating soon. “I fully believe that [Facebook Home] is something that people will want over time,” Zuckerberg said.

That’s a sign of how important Facebook sees mobile and a deepening role for itself in that wider mobile experience. This ties directly into the company’s wider revenue ambitions and the part mobile is playing in that. As of last quarter (Q2), Facebook had 699 mobile users and 1.1 billion overall monthly active users, Zuckerberg said today, and within that mobile is playing a growing role in terms of advertising revenues. eMarketer in August estimated that Facebook this year will account for nearly 16% of global mobile ad revenue this year, growing by over 10 percentage points over last year.

Adding Instagram into the Home lockscreen is also a sign of how Facebook is continuing to further integrate its mobile-first acquisition, while adding third party apps gives Facebook another window into positioning itself as the launching pad for how people interact with the wider web.