HTC’s “First” smartphone received mixed reviews from critics when it was released last month. The handset received praise for its affordable price — $99 with a new two-year agreement — and critics liked its decent internal hardware as well as the fact that it was running a nearly stock version of Android. Reviewers were less enthusiastic about the device’s rear camera and integrated Facebook Home software, however. BGR noted in a review last month that while Facebook Home is appealing for the frequent social network user, it is still a long way off from being a finished product. But despite the sizeable advertising budget, sales of the HTC First appear to be off to a slow start. AT&T this week slashed the price of the smartphone from $99 to $0.99 with a new two-year agreement and reduced the off-contract price from $450 to $350. Although no sales data has been released, the recent price cut suggests that Facebook may be in the midst of its First big mobile flop.
Facebook Home has its fair share of critics. But while I personally can’t stand Facebook as a service, I am not one of them. Home takes over the user’s Android smartphone and replaces the home screen with an unending stream of full-screen Facebook photos and status updates posted by friends. The first version of Facebook’s new Android software clearly has some kinks that need to be ironed out, but Facebook has more incentive than it could ever need to get the job done. More →
Facebook is now firmly entrenched as a mobile company, with 30% of total advertising revenue coming from mobile. Mobile is the key front for Facebook now and for the foreseeable future, as users continue to spend the majority of their time on phones and tablets. Mobile monthly active users (MAU) grew to 751 million in the first quarter, with total daily active users (DAUs) reaching 1.1 billion. UBS analyst Eric Sheridan noted that mobile advertising revenue was above his estimates at $374 million, and he expects to see continued growth as more users, and more ads go online. More →
When it comes to privacy and data protection, Facebook is hardly thought of as a leader among big technology companies. It should be somewhat troubling, then, that the Electronic Frontier Foundation has ranked Apple worse than companies like Facebook, Amazon and Comcast when it comes to protecting your data from the government. More →
Facebook isn’t in any danger of experiencing a MySpace-style implosion anytime soon, but that doesn’t mean the social networking giant isn’t in danger of seeing its clout slowly erode over time. The Guardian reports that a new study from SocialBakers shows that Facebook lost around 6 million visitors in the United States in just the last month alone, which represents a 4% decline of its total user base. The most recent drop in American Facebook visitors is part of a sustained decline, since SocialBakers estimates that the social networking site has seen a drop of around 9 million visitors over the past six months. The good news for Facebook is that its own photo-sharing social network Instagram has apparently picked up the slack and has “seen surges in popularity with younger age groups.”
Facebook unveiled Facebook Home, an application that replaces your Android phone’s homescreen with Facebook photos and status updates, earlier this month for select Android smartphones. Google chairman Eric Schmidt previously called the software “fantastic” and said it was a creative tweaking of the operating system that fits in well with Google’s conception of Android as an open source platform. He isn’t the only Google executive who finds Facebook Home intriguing, however: Android design chief Matias Durate told ABC News that Facebook’s homescreen replacement “shows an incredible amount of polish and attention to design detail,” which is impressive especially because it “didn’t come from a hardware manufacturer.” More →
Google on Friday changed one of its Play Store policies to prevent apps from being updated outside of its marketplace. The company states that “an app downloaded from Google Play may not modify, replace or update its own APK binary code using any method other than Google Play’s update mechanism.” The change comes shortly after Facebook tweaked its Android application to allow users to update it without using the normal Google Play update system. It could be a coincidence, however it would appear that Google is worried that other developers might have followed suit and would therefore become less dependent on its Play Store.
Facebook Home may have been downloaded more than 500,000 times in its first week but new research from BTIG suggests that it could take significantly longer to get its next 500,000 downloads. Using data from AppAnnie, BTIG found that Facebook Home’s ranking in the Google Play charts peaked at No. 50 on April 19th before quickly declining to No. 130 less than a week later. While Facebook debuted its Home application to great fanfare earlier this month, the app has been poorly received by many Android users who have been bombarding it with one-star reviews that account for more than half of all its total reviews on Google Play. BTIG says that because Facebook plans monthly updates to Home, it stands a chance to rebound if it can improve the user experience.
In many circles on competing services like Twitter, Facebook is the Nickelback of social networks. People love to discuss how awful it is and to joke about it constantly, mocking various aspects of the service and business such as how fast and loose it plays with users’ privacy. Everyone seems to have a Facebook account and yet no one seems to use the service actively. But just as Nickelback manages to sell millions of albums each year despite seemingly having no fans, Facebook — the social network people love to hate — has a billion monthly active users. More →
Facebook’s new Home software saw mixed reviews from those who took an early look at it, but tech bloggers and reporters aren’t exactly Facebook’s target market. Among Facebook’s heavier users, the software seems to have piqued a fair amount of interest. As TechCrunch noted over the weekend, Facebook Home downloads from the Google Play app store topped 500,000 on Sunday. The figure doesn’t seem terribly impressive at first sight considering that more than a billion people use Facebook each month, but the software is only available on five different handsets for the time being so it’s certainly a respectable start. More →
Facebook Home will never be available on the iPhone — at least not as we know it on Android. The software that turns every Android phone into a “Facebook Phone” is simply too intrusive to get around Apple’s strict developer guidelines. Facebook brought one of Home’s more intriguing features to the iPhone earlier this week, however, when it updated its app with support for “chat heads,” the small round avatars that pop up on the screen when a Facebook friend messages you. Chat heads obviously only work while iPhone users have Facebook’s app open, but a new jailbreak tweak launching soon bypasses Apple’s restrictions and makes chat heads available on any screen. More →
iOS Maps was obviously not one of Apple’s better efforts but that doesn’t mean the executive who oversaw its implementation has nothing to contribute to the tech world. Bloomberg reports that Facebook has hired Richard Williamson, the former Apple executive who headed the development of the ill-fated iOS Maps, to work as part of its mobile software team. Although iOS Maps was certainly a disaster for Apple, it doesn’t tell the full story of Williamson’s career — as Bloomberg notes, he worked at Apple for more than 10 years and was “one of the engineers assigned by Apple co-founder Steve Jobs to build software for the iPhone.” So unless Facebook hired Williamson to oversee the creation of its own mapping application, it seems safe to say the company has found itself an experienced executive who can help improve its mobile offerings.
Facebook seems intent on testing its users’ patience for annoying and invasive content. Unnamed sources have told AdAge that Facebook is working with ad agencies to bring video advertisements to users’ Facebook timelines that will likely “be autoplay and presented in a video player that expands beyond the main news-feed real estate to cover the right- and left-hand rails of users’ screens.” AdAge says that Facebook hopes to make more than $4 million a day just from the new video ads, which it says “could be eagerly sought after by agencies that have plenty of TV ad creative on their hands and not enough TV-like web inventory to place it in.”