Facebook unveils 'Home' Android product

Friday 05 April 2013 10.53
Mark Zuckerberg says Facebook users' focus will change from apps and tasks to people
Mark Zuckerberg says Facebook users' focus will change from apps and tasks to people

Facebook has introduced software called Home, which is designed to make the social network the hub of any smartphone running Google's Android operating system.

The idea behind the software is to bring Facebook content right to the home screen, rather than requiring users to check apps.

"Home" comes amid rapid growth in the number of people who access Facebook from phones and tablet computers.

Available in the US for download from April 12, the service is part of Facebook's move to shift its users' focus from "apps and tasks" to people, said chief executive Mark Zuckerberg during Home's unveiling at the company's California headquarters yesterday.

The new product, which can reside on the home screen of Android phones, is a family of apps designed around people's Facebook connections.

Rather than see a set of apps for email, maps and other services on the screen, users will be greeted with photos and updates from their Facebook feeds.

"We think this is the best version of Facebook there is," Zuckerberg said.

He said users can have an experience on Android phones that they can not have on other platforms. That is because Google makes the software available on an open-source basis, allowing others to adapt it to their needs.

The move coincides with rapid growth among the number of users who access the social network from smartphones and tablet computers

It could also help to attract more mobile advertisers. Though mobile ads were a big concern for Facebook's investors even before the company's initial public offering last May, some of the worry has subsided as the company muscles its way into the market.

Last year, Facebook began showing ads to its mobile audience by shoehorning corporate-sponsored content into users' news feeds, which also include updates from friends and brands they follow.

Facebook now faces the challenge of showing people mobile ads without annoying or alienating them.

The mobile advertising market is growing quickly, thanks in large part to Facebook and Twitter, which also entered the space in 2012.

Research firm eMarketer expects US mobile ad spending to grow 77% this year to $7.29 billion, from $4.11 billion last year.

EMarketer expects Facebook to reap $965m in US mobile ad revenue in 2013. That is up from $391m in 2012, the first year that Facebook started showing mobile ads.