Facebook Home does have a market, it's India

Facebook Home does have a market, it's India

Summary: Facebook Home could be the long attempted Facebook phone for India.


The reactions to Facebook's new mobile experience called Home have been mixed. Personally, this was the least exciting announcement in a very long time. There is no positive for any ecosystem here, let alone the user. Some headlines from my colleagues at ZDNet:

Facebook Home: A prettier Motoblur

Facebook unveiled the Home app designed to let the social network take over your Android home screen. A few years ago the failed Motoblur tried to do the same thing.

-- James Kendrick

Phone Home? Facebook Home another intolerable waste of time

As a Facebook hater, you might find it unsurprising that I also hate 'Home' but it goes deeper than a hate for Facebook alone. It goes all the way back to AOL of the mid-90s.

-- Ken Hess

(Even as a regular Facebook user, i find Facebook Home to be an intolerable waste of time.)

Why Facebook Home will blow Android into smithereens

You think Google's Android OS is hopelessly fragmented now? This is just the beginning.

-- Jason Perlow

And then there are the privacy concerns, as pointed out by Rachel King. I haven't found any reason to use Home as my default boot option (if that's what it can be called). My Facebook feed is filled with pictures of quotes that are tagged with several people I don't know. (I think I need better friends.) Having these pictures circle on my lock screen will be frustrating enough for me to either:

  1. Quit Facebook
  2. Disable Facebook Home

My rants aside, when I think about the Indian consumer, I believe Facebook's idea to make any Android phone into a Facebook phone might drive a new range of devices and marketing blitz from the Indian OEMs and operators. both parts of the mobile ecosystem have in the past made attempts to woo the Indian consumer with special offers for Facebook use. Here are some examples:

Point being, companies in India have seen a market in a "Facebook phone" for a few years, and Facebook Home will act as a solid platform to offer these services. Somini Sengupta writing for the New York Times talked about Brazil and India's huge Facebook userbase as a potential market. While she might be right that Facebook doesn't have a monetary advantage in doing a big splash launch in India, the operators & phone manufacturers would be more than willing to leverage Facebook Home as a marketing gimmick to sell.

Forbes' Parmy Olson is pessimistic about Facebook Home gaining any traction in India despite pointing out the following:

  • India is a second largest Android market
  • India's mobile handset market saw a growth of 75% in the second half of 2012
  • India has the third largest Facebook userbase

She points out apps like Nimbuzz and WhatsApp will be a roadblock for Facebook Home, that's something very hard to digest or even consider. Messaging apps have affected carriers but that affecting Facebook Home's adoption given that carriers will do anything to sell services, that's a very uneducated prediction.

India is a good market for Facebook Home, not necessarily Facebook the company.



Topic: India

Manan Kakkar

About Manan Kakkar

Telecommunication engineer with a keen interest in end-user technology and a News junkie, I share my thoughts while preparing for my Master's in Information Management.

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  • Facebook Home vs Windows Phone in India

    Numerous articles are saying that Nokia's cheap Windows Phones are making good progress in India and fairly recently there have been claims that Windows Phones are outselling the iPhone in India.


    So I guess we will have to see what Facebook Home does in India.
    • Facebook has an advantage.

      True, that will be an interesting competition to watch but for OEMs/carriers launching cheap Android phones that run Facebook Home will be more cost effective than launching Windows Phone. Even indigenous OEMs like Micromax, Karbonn etc can easily launch these Facebook phones, but they can't launch their own WP8 phones. "Facebook phones" offer the advantages of Android too.
      Manan Kakkar
  • In India

    ...a Nokia plus MS combine would probably make a killing - at least in the mid-tier and high-end market. The problem for MS in a country like India is the low-end of the market. If MS can reduce the OS licensing cost (or at least distribute it between the carriers and the Indian phone manufactures - rather system integrators) then MS could very easily control large segments of the Indian market because that would allow the Indian manufacturers like Karbonn and their competitors to service the mid-to-lower end of at least the smartphone market. But I am not sure MS will or can do that. Personally, I feel that Facebook will go the Orkut way in a couple of years in India. Why? Demographics.
  • It remains to be seen

    It remains to be seen whether this mid-range Android phone is a better value than say a Nokia Lumia 520 or 620 which are being unleashed in India and also have deep Facebook integration.
  • Very interesting Manan.

    Insights like this are totally worth reading. Thanks!