Facebook & Android: NMK members comment on the new application

By Magda David Hercheui

Facebook’s new application shows that the company keeps its strategy of going more on mobile technologies, and harvesting more information on how users behave online and particularly when using mobile platforms. See below some contributions receive by NMK.

Broadening Facebook appeal on mobile platforms

Jan Dawson, chief telecoms analyst at Ovum, has the following initial reaction:

“Any broadening of Facebook’s appeal on mobile devices would have to be broad-based, and the Android launcher approach allows it to target a huge installed base of hundreds of millions of Android users, which will be a large chunk of Facebook’s total user base of more than a billion people.

“To users, the sell here will be making it easier to share information, photos and so on with friends. But to Facebook, this is about becoming more deeply embedded in the operating system on mobile devices, and creating a broader platform. Since Facebook doesn’t make an operating system for mobile devices, this is the next best thing. It will allow Facebook to track more of a user’s behaviour on devices, and present more opportunities to serve up advertising, which is Facebook’s main business model. And that presents the biggest obstacle to success for this experiment: Facebook’s objectives and users’ are once again in conflict. Users don’t want more advertising or tracking, and Facebook wants to do more of both.

“This is a great experiment for Facebook – it’s much lower risk than developing a phone or an operating system of its own, and if it turns out not to be successful, there will be little risk or loss to Facebook. If it does turn out to be successful, Facebook can build on the model further and increase the value provided in the application over time. The biggest challenge will be that it can’t replicate this experience on iOS, Windows Phone or BlackBerry, the three other main platforms.

“For carriers, the risk is that this puts Facebook’s communication services front and centre on the device and makes them easier to use and more integrated with the core experience on the device, which should make them easier to use than when they’re buried in an app, and should accelerate the shift from carrier services to over the top (OTT) services. It should be a big boost to Facebook Messenger and the associated voice and video services.”

Facebook is doing to Google what Google did to the Internet

Victor Basta, managing director of Magister Advisors, said:

"Facebook’s move is a classic case of ‘out-googling’ Google. By going ‘over the top’ of Google’s prized Android operating system, Facebook is doing to Google exactly what Google did to the Internet, sitting on top of a chaotic system, making it simple and uniform through a proprietary layer, and underpinning this with deep search functionality. In Facebook’s case it happens to be sitting on top of Google’s prized Android OS supported by the depth of Graph Search.

"The clear strategic threat is that it could dramatically reduce the value of Google’s investment in Android, and Google has zero say in this, since unlike Apple, they do not control what happens within the Android eco-system.

"The bigger picture is that Google, Facebook and Apple are now all effectively competing for the same sources of value, and therefore the market valuations of all three companies increasingly represent the ‘pie’ from which each company is taking a slice. In future, what drives Facebook’s valuation up is more likely to drive Google and/or Apple down. This is a three–way fight in which everyone else marginalised.

"Facebook are clearly hell-bent on breaking Google’s hegemony in search through a combination of Graph Search and deeper mobile device integration. What’s interesting and significant about the steps that Facebook are taking with search is that they stem from a behavioural understanding of the user base. Graph Search is powered by the behaviour and choices of "people like us" wherever we are.

“They’ve made a big play today of Chat Head, but what they’re actually talking about is ‘Chat Nav’, which has enormous commercial potential. As communities share views and opinions in new ways it transforms the nature of online commerce. People and interest-based search is emerging as the driver for Facebook’s next $100bn of value.”

Facebook ‘phone’ receives muted online response

The launch of Facebook’s new phone operating system received a lukewarm response online with only 57,000 conversations compared to the Samsung Galaxy S4 which sparked 323,000 comments, according to Synthesio the global social media monitoring and analysis software provider.

The majority of the 57,000 conversations on launch day were neutral (86.8%), with 3.8% negative and only 9.4% positive.

Synthesio analysed conversations on Facebook, Twitter, blogs and the comments sections of news sites across the world.

Catriona Oldershaw, Managing Director UK of Synthesio, said: “There was a very clear disconnect between what consumers expected the announcement to be about and what was actually revealed. In the run up to the announcement, many people expected a brand new Facebook ‘phone’ to be announced, rather than a new operating system. This goes some way to explaining the rather subdued response online.

“Online comments were also very US-centric, with 48% of conversations originating in the US and only 28% in Europe and 11% in Asia. To put this into context, when the Samsung Galaxy S4 was launch last month, comments were split evenly across these three key markets. This could indicate that the announcement has much less global appeal given the differing levels of Facebook penetration across the globe.”

About the author

Dr. Magda David Hercheui is a senior lecturer at Westminster Business School. She lectures on information management, project management and digital innovation. She is a researcher on social media, virtual communities and collaboration, and a consultant in her area of expertise. Magda has also been the editor of New Media Knowledge since 2009.


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