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Deeper than an app: Facebook introduces Home for Android

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5th Apr 2013
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Facebook unveiled its highly anticipated plan for mobile last night with the launch of Home, a new software for Android operating systems.

Launched by Zuckerberg at Facebook HQ in Silicon Valley, the app will see the traditional home screen and menu of an Android phone replaced with Facebook updates. When users turn on their phone, they will see notifications, images and messages whilst traditional text messages will also be integrated within Facebook chat.

“We are not building a phone and we are not building an operating system but we are are building something that is a whole lot deeper than an ordinary app,” Zuckerberg said.

“We wanted to flip things around so our phones were designed around people and not apps. How many times have you pulled out a phone and looked into different apps to see what's going on? 'We want to bring all this content to the front.”

The software is free and can initially be downloaded onto phones running Android software, with tablet integration set to come later.

It will also be preloaded onto certain new handsets – the very first Facebook phone will be a HTC handset called First, due to be launched in the UK late this summer.

Peter Chou, the chief executive of HTC, said: “HTC First offers a unique home experience to Facebook’s many users. It puts a user’s friends and family at the centre of their mobile experience.”

The announcement is the latest move from the social network to monetise the site through mobile advertising. Last year, Facebook introduced ads to mobile users via news feeds.

Jan Dawson, chief telecoms analyst at Ovum, said of the launch: “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.”

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