Facebook Appears Clueless As To What Android Users Actually Want
If a company just entered the Fortune 500 for the first time which makes it one of the largest (and almost automatically, well respected) companies in America it might be reasonable to think that there is some decent thinking going on there, right?
Apparently at Facebook that might be asking too much. Now, to be fair, it’s not like the company is completely in the dark. It’s done a great job getting to where it is today. The trouble for the company, and for those investing in the company, is that it is making some bold statements about its future being in mobile. As a result, you get Facebook Home for Android which is supposed to take the Facebook experience to a new level and practically immerse the user in a Facebook driven world.
But there appears to be a little hiccup. Actually, if this report from TechCrunch is even remotely accurate, it is more like a giant brain fart. Apparently, Facebook built the future of Facebook on Android without really knowing what Android users like. Josh Costine reports
Facebook didn’t realize just how important widgets, docks, and app folders were to Android users, and that leaving them out of Home was a huge mistake. That’s because some of the Facebookers who built and tested Home normally carry iPhones, I’ve confirmed. Lack of “droidfooding” has left Facebook scrambling to add these features, whose absence have led Home to just 1 million downloads since launching a month ago.
The lack of droidfooders didn’t have serious consequences until Home, Facebook’s new “apperating system”. It replaces the lock screen, homescreen, and app launcher of compatible Android phones with a Facebook-centric experience. It offers Cover Feed, a big, beautiful way to browser the news feed the second you bring your phone out of sleep. It’s missing the ability to build real-time information widgets, put your most used apps in a persistently visible dock, or organize your collection of apps into folders.
I am an Android user but I have literally NO desire to hand over my experience to Facebook no matter how well they know me and my mobile operating system of choice. For me it’s more about not giving Facebook everything about me vs. them interfering with my Android experience. But for those who would be willing to go along, it might be a rude awakening as to just how little Facebook knows, or cared to know, about Android users before making the bold pronouncement of Home being the future of mobile for Facebook, and presumably, the rest of the Internet.
All of the tech analyst talk aside, if you are an investor in Facebook and you see something like this it better raise A LOT of red flags. Are Facebook developers really that disconnected that they wouldn’t test the future of the mobile experience of the company on the device it is meant to run on because they ‘don’t feel like it’ or ‘it’s not what they want to do’ or ‘it’s a hassle’? My teenager responds better than that when faced with something as obvious.
Is this the beginning of the end for Facebook? No way. What it should be to everyone though is a bellwether moment in the development, or lack thereof, in Facebook as a company. This is a sign that there is not really anyone truly manning this ship or, if they are, they are so insular and isolated from the real world to be of any help. In Christianity, this is referred to as being ‘too heavenly minded to be of any earthly good’. In technology let’s just call it what it is: weak.
Where else is Facebook not getting the mobile world right? Should consumers who are not part of the iPhone world be high skeptics of anything that Facebook tries to pitch as the next great thing for their online experience? The answer is yes.
Of course, it is likely that Facebook knows one thing about the vast majority of its users; they are not tech geeks in the Valley. As a result, Facebook is likely banking that their ignorance will fuel their adoption rate of anything Facebook throws over the fence. This is the point where things get dangerous because if Facebook could actually get away with things because of their users’ ignorance there is no telling where the company will go with privacy etc, etc.
Let’s face it, it’s not like Facebook has ever really cared about anything other than what moves them forward. They have a rich history of asking for forgiveness rather than permission. Maybe that arrogance is catching up with them? What’s your take?