When Facebook was first created in 2004 as a social networking site for Harvard University students, creator Mark Zuckerberg had no idea about the impact the site would have, the growth over the years has spiralled out of control. Within 24 hours of launching the site, more than 1200 Harvard University student had created a profile, and within one month half of the undergraduate population at Harvard had created a Facebook profile.
Those of us who were brought up in the social media generation know how important it is to stay connected; everything from our work lives to our social lives, and in some cases our love lives revolve heavily around our Facebook and Twitter accounts. We find out about job opportunities, what events are happening in our area, and friends’ birthday plans through our Facebook and Twitter accounts, we even start to dial a call and hang up if a Facebook notification comes through. We’re so reliant on being connected in the digital world that, when faced with a day without access to our usual accounts, we experience a very real panic similar to that of wedding-day jitters, or a pre-dentist panic.
Facebook has proven its endurance compared to some social networks of the past; MySpace and Bebo have all but fallen into oblivion, while Facebook sees an increase in activity on a daily basis. Reports in early 2013 found that users who were accessing Facebook on the move, through mobile devices, favoured Android as their operating system, with almost 200 million users in regular use. In answer to the demand from Android/Facebook users plans have now been unveiled for a Facebook ‘Launcher’ app which will prioritise Facebook services over standard phone features; the Facebook launcher will be the default setting for camera, search engine, and messaging when activated.
While software giants like Apple and Google have pointed their efforts towards creating devices to improve their reach to the technology-driven public, Facebook have made the ingenious decision to blanket the availability of its new app on every Android device, proving that success does not have to rely on breakthrough technology. Previous attempts to widen the net of Facebook’s mobile user base included collaboration with HTC to incorporate a dedicated Facebook button the Cha Cha phone.
When questioned about why Facebook had not opted to build their own phone as with other organisations, Zuckerberg answered “A great phone might sell 10 or 20 million units at best, but our community has over 1 billion people. Even if we built a really good phone, we’d only be serving 1 per cent”.
The Future of Mobile Phones
When the service is launched on the 12th of April 2013, there’ll undoubtedly be a surge of downloads from avid Facebook users but whether they’ll stick with the service is yet to be seen. To really take hold, we predict that the Facebook search feature would need to display the high-functionality of Google’s search engine in order to seduce users to turn their back on the search giant they know and love. The launch date will also be the rolling out of the first set of phones to have the launcher pre-installed – the mid-range HTC First – which should attract some attention though likely it will be for reasons other than its Facebook accessibility. In coming months, Facebook launcher will be pre-installed on all new Samsung and HTC mobile devices in a bid to be ‘the home screen of every Android phone’.
One possible challenge that Facebook will face in its quest for growth is a change in Google policies which would prevent Facebook from pushing any paid services through Google Play though it is widely accepted that for Google to oppose any Facebook growth would mean making a 180 on its philosophy of an open market.
About the author:
Jenny loves mobile technology and mostly uses her mobile for cheap dialtosave calls but Facebook is always a distraction! Do you think this will all be a success?