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If Mobile Is So Important to Facebook, Why Does Its Android App Suck So Much?

Yesterday, Facebook made the announcement that they have created a new app for feature phones which can spread the use of Facebook in other mobile environments.

The Facebook blog post from Mark Heynen tells us

We want people to have a great mobile experience no matter what type of phone they carry. Smartphones have offered better features for sharing with friends but aren’t used by most people around the world.

Today, we’re launching a new mobile app to bring Facebook to the most popular mobile phones around the world. The Facebook for Feature Phones app works on more than 2,500 devices from Nokia, Sony Ericsson, LG and other manufacturers, and it was built in close cooperation with Snaptu. The app provides a better Facebook experience for our most popular features, including an easier-to-navigate home screen, contact synchronization, and fast scrolling of photos and friend updates.

Good move. There are a lot of people out there who have feature phones rather than smartphones and they deserve a chance to waste time on the go as well.

Here’s my question. If mobile is so important why does the Android Facebook app suck so bad? I have stopped using it altogether and go to the site even on my smartphone. Why? Because getting information off of it is a spotty proposition at best. I did an extremely unscientific and limited test just to see if I wasn’t just whining. It looks like I am not alone in my assessment and no one rushed to the defense of the app.

With the growth of Android devices and the types of users that are getting them (at least for now) wouldn’t it make sense for Facebook to make sure its app in that environment (as well as iPhone’s) is as close to flawless as you can get?

Apparently not. This is the one major flaw I see with how Facebook does business. It seems to want to do things so fast that it is OK with putting out inferior offerings just as long as they can say they are in the field. Then they will hide behind the ‘newness’ of all of this as an excuse why everything doesn’t work better.

The reality is they look more and more like a social media chop shop every day as they push everything through their mill as quickly as possible and then get it on the market and wait to see if anyone notices that it’s not that great (or that it runs roughshod over privacy like the mobile phone number for developers mess).

I guess today is a day to piss and moan about the shortcomings of social media (for me at least!). But the reason I do it is because I think that the major players in the space should do a better job. Bigger does not mean better in this space. It appears it just means bigger.

If Facebook were to concentrate on high quality offerings with a much cleaner interface and more direct communication with what they are actually doing with your information they, and the rest of us, would be better off.

Honestly, I suspect that posts like this are just an exercise in futility though because Facebook will do what Facebook does regardless of what users say. The only way that Facebook will truly listen to users is if people start to leave the service and I just don’t see that happening anytime soon.

  • http://www.pratapsingh.typepad.com Pratap Singh

    Hi Frank,

    Your closing remarks sound defeatist. While it is true, it is also contrary to the “power of social media” and consumers’ voice. Facebook is maybe too big and powerful to acknowledge such a problem but I am certain it has enough consumer savvy to do something about it.

    • http://www.frankthinking.com Frank Reed

      @Pretap – If the truth sounds defeatist then so be it. Rather than living in a fantasy land like so many in the industry do I prefer to just cut to the chase. Facebook is what it is. Even when it tries to look democratic it does so in a way that doesn’t end up panning out. Remember the 7500 comment limit on new policies as to whether any change would be brought to a vote?

      If you can show me what they have actually done about anything other than try to get money out of their user base to justify their valuations then I am willing to listen.

  • http://www.info2dw.com Menisa Lindra

    Hi Frank, I think whatever you said is true. I used android once but it sucks to use it. I don’t know what Facebook was thinking before developing it…