Facebook's announcement of 'Facebook Home' has the potential to change the smartphone landscape.
It has produced a Facebook Phone without the added complication of designing and building hardware. Its potential reach has implications for us all.
This is a clever move. In a time where hardware companies are trying to build software (Apple) and software companies are trying to build hardware (Microsoft, Google) we have a company who is aware of who they are.
With industry commentators predicting the arrival of a Facebook phone it was a small surprise to most when Facebook actually came out with ‘Facebook Home’.
This move does makes sense. Why should they compromise their software product by risking building their own hardware? Let the specialists do that.
Everybody will have one
We are rapidly approaching the point where everybody has a smartphone. Not through choice but by default. Entry level phones are now smartphones. When an upgrade is due, the consumer will be given a smartphone whether they know what one is or not.
The tech or fashion savvy will still choose their favourite. Maybe the latest Apple or Samsung incarnation but the rest, the generic Android entry level phone awaits. And, in time, all of these devices will be Facebook Phones.
Facebook market share
This is Facebook’s play to take a dominant share of the mobile market. Many users of Home devices will not know the difference between Facebook Home and the underlying OS.
They will never leave Facebook’s facade.
More than that, for users whose internet experience is almost entirely driven by their Facebook account, they will ask their local mobile phone stockist for a Facebook Phone by name when the time comes.
This has far reaching ramifications for marketers who are seeking to reach the growing mobile audience. Facebook as a platform is already proving to be useful for those looking to make a social sell on the web.
If average Joe Public smartphone users are absorbed into Facebook on their mobile too the opportunities to sell are only going to increase.
Facebook may have presented Apple with its first credible challenge to its dominance. While Samsung is challenging on the quality of its devices it is still being hamstrung by its lack of all consuming ecosystem.
Amazon may yet provide the threat that has been promised by its tablets by making an attempt at the smartphone market. Like Samsung though, it does not have a credible ecosystem alternative.
But Facebook is here now. While it is not yet possible to purchase media from Facebook in the same way as you can from Amazon or App Store it does have a committed user base who are consumed by the world that Facebook has allowed them to create.
Facebook has an ecosystem of sorts that may be enough to commit users to its mobile platform.
With Blackberry and Microsoft seemingly floundering, and Google unable to convert its install dominance into mass ecosystem buy-in, Facebook may have found the way to worry Apple.