The Facebook Smartphone Experience

facebook smartphone

Some rumors die. Some come back to haunt us. This one has already died twice and is now back the third time. Only this time it looks more solid. Nick Bilton from The New York Times reported that Facebook could be making its own smartphone for real this time. Apparently Facebook has been hiring engineers who have previously worked on the iPhone and iPad at Apple. This would be Facebook’s third attempt (read noob attempt) at making a smartphone. As per the report, Facebook may launch its smartphone in the market as early as next year. That’s of course if they’re able to pull off something amazing.

Let’s take a look at what the Facebook smartphone could look like, both in therms of software and hardware:

Software

Facebook is a software company. For their smartphone to really stand out, they would need to focus on the software. Now if you take a look around – the iOS is already an industry leader in the smartphone market, Android has found love amongst several manufacturers, Microsoft is still working hard on making sure their next edition of Windows Phone OS is an absolute killer and RIM, well, they’re doing stuff too.

Facebook could gamble and work on its own OS from scratch. That, I think, would be a dick move. Reinventing the wheel isn’t going to win any battle of thrones err..smartphones I mean. The safest bet for Facebook could be to buy an existing smartphone operating system or go with Google’s open source mobile operating system – Android. Seems highly unlikely that Facebook will shake hands with those who must not be evil.

Seriously thinking, the Facebook operating system might be as simple as an app. Yes, it could be one big Facebook mobile application that further allows you to control and operate your smartphone.

facebook phone software

Just like Google pitched its Chrome OS as a browser – Facebook’s smartphone OS might just be based on a smartphone running an enhanced version of the Facebook mobile application.

Come to think of it and Facebook already has everything it needs. An app for messaging and chatting, an app for social networking (duh!), a Camera app and even another photos app worth billions, Instagram. All this along with the existing app store it launched recently, which can be further enhanced to support a smartphone experience. They just need to stich everything together and present it in a way that makes it appealing to users. Personally, I just hope the OS doesn’t suck like their native mobile applications.

The Facebook smartphone ecosystem could be driven by content partners as well as applications developers who have been successful at making apps for Facebook earlier. Facebook Credits might play a significant role in the smartphone experience. Imagine being able to buy apps at retail stores via Facebook Credits. I can’t help but feel sorry for myself when I think of it – my friends playing idiotic games on Facebook to earn some Credits so they could use them.

The social experience of a Facebook smartphone may be dull, ugly and even boring at times, much like the Facebook web experience as of now. But you’ll still find yourself addicted to it because of the very same reason – all your friends are on Facebook.

Facebook phone hardware

Hardware

This is the part where Facebook might run into a trouble. It has zero hardware experience and it just doesn’t have the juice to compete with major manufacturers, given its current situation. It has a lot of money in the bank, agreed, but will it spend all of it setting up a hardware unit? Or may be even buying one? Looks unpromising as a proposal.

Instead, Facebook could partner with a hardware company. Rumors had it that they had attempted one with HTC the last time around but it didn’t quite materialize. This time around things are much different.

Facebook is looking for alternate sources of revenue and mobile phone manufacturers are ready to do anything for more market share. Heck, RIM would strip naked for just a partnership.

So how would a Facebook phone look like? Well, pretty much how all smartphones look like – the iPhone. Ideally it could be a full touchscreen device. It could include a dedicated button like the home screen on most phones to launch the main menu along with other essential buttons such as a volume rockers and a power on/off button.

Camera optics can be easily outsourced. A decent 8MP camera would be great if it comes with almost zero shutter lag. Facebook doesn’t need to pull off a Nokia 404 here. Other hardware specifications could be – a dual core processor (pretty much a standard now) as I don’t think Facebook-ers need quad core madness, decent amount of RAM – considering Facebook’s current state I’d say a minimum of a gigabyte should be sufficient.

The display could be quite a challenge here. Facebook would attempt to keep it at par with Apple’s Retina Display on the iPhone. It’s a challenge because Facebook would also be looking at keeping the price of their phone slightly lower (pure gut feeling) as opposed to the iPhone. I’m not saying it’ll be a deal-maker but for many, this is one primary reason for buying an Android or a sub-standard smartphone – it is much cheaper and almost does the same things.

Conclusion

I’m no pundit, so before you post nasty comments below please keep this in mind. The Facebook smartphone may still be far far away from reality but it clearly shows how focused Mark is about more revenue streams. Facebook clearly doesn’t want to get left behind especially when Google is getting into hardware with their recent purchase of Motorola mobility.

The Facebook smartphone would ideally offer the same social experience it offers to all its users currently – simple and open. Also, privacy is something they’ll be looking out for!

Facebook Launches New Camera App

Facebook mobile app
This explains the Instagram deal. If Facebook had launched it’s new mobile camera app without buying Instagram in the first place, everyone and their dogs must have accused Facebook for such blasphemy.

As per Facebook, the new Camera app makes it brain-dead simple for people to click, edit and share photos on the go. It’s currently available for download on the iTunes AppStore. From the video you can make out the app does seem to make it simple to upload multiple photos, add effects and scroll through your friends’ photos.

So now there’s another app to take photos, add effects and paste them all over Facebook. Good lord! I wonder why they didn’t integrate it with their existing Facebook mobile application. Oh wait…thank god they didn’t do that!

Facebook Working On New Timeline Design

facebook timeline design

Facebook is working on making some changes to it’s recently rolled out Timeline profile pages.

“The new look creates subtle but noticeable changes to the top of user profiles, chiefly moving the user’s name, home location, occupation, education, and other basic information into a layer of text atop the “cover photo,” the widescreen image that serves as the backdrop for a user’s profile. The text has been changed to white to stand out against the dark colors of a user’s cover photo.”

I’m a big fan of the new Timeline design. This looks kind of good. Not sure if I’m a fan of the name, home location, education etc. fields moving inside the cover photo, not sure if everyone would appreciate them intruding their creatively placed cover photos.

The most interesting part worth noticing here, especially for marketers, is:

“The new view also adds a whole new tab on a user’s profile, the “Summary,” which when clicked, shows a list of the major “Life Events” of the user. The “Likes” section of a user’s profile has been changed to read “Favorites.”

Likes would now be called Favorites. There’s also a little tab for it on the profile page. This could let users browse through all the things that they’ve liked on a single page. This, if real, could be amazing from a user’s perspective. As of now anything I like gets buried in my newsfeed.

There’s still no word from Facebook on when this would be rolled out for all users. They are currently testing the new design on a small set of users.

GM: Facebook Ads Don’t Work

GM Facebook page

General Motors has claimed that it will stop advertising on Facebook. Why? Simple – they think Facebook ads just don’t work. The announcement comes at a crucial time as the multi-billion Facebook IPO is all set to rock the stock markets this Friday.

Apparently GM spends around $40 million on Facebook marketing alone out of which $10 million is spent on Facebook ads. Whoa! That is a huge number. Pundits may already be in the process of writing super long blog posts stating this may be the start of Facebook’s end. Alright let’s not exaggerate here.

It’s obvious that advertisers, over the period of time, are going to look for a return on their investment. Placing ads worth millions isn’t really going to work if you’re not ‘doing it right’. I don’t see how GM is calculating sales that come from Facebook users who are enticed to buy GM products after clicking on ads. It isn’t a very straightforward process.

Startups and Success

startups and success

What happens to most of the startups you don’t get to hear about? What happened to that little app you signed up for and then forgot? There may have been several different reasons but the most common answer is – they gave up. It’s very easy to start a new company, work on new ideas and expect an overnight success. But then overnight success is just a myth.

[quote_right]It is easy to give up and let go when it’s not working out. So why not?[/quote_right]Nothing happens overnight. Not unless you break up with a dear girlfriend, get drunk and hack the campus network to produce a viral application. Even in Mark Zuckerberg’s case it wasn’t an overnight success story. It was months and months of sheer hard work and brilliant team spirit that eventually led to Facebook’s success.

The same can be said for almost all top industry movers and shakers. Steve Jobs is a classic example of how hard work, creativity and passion for building great products can lead to success in the long term, Bill Gates didn’t always get it right the first time.

As for startups, Chris Dixon mentions, ‘Angry Birds was Rovio’s 52nd game’ and that the new upcoming social content curating site Pinterest wasn’t initially very popular with its users. Same is the case with most major startups. You work harder and harder, day by day and make your products more usable and kickass for your users, only then you end up tasting success. You have the option of giving up in the middle of the journey but it’s not recommended.

Killing and Dying Technologies

adobe flash is dead

When it comes to new technologies, everyone is a pundit. We all become little fortune tellers who love to predict which new technology would shape our future in the coming years and which one is doomed right from the word go. No wonder every new product that is supposed to take on a previous favorite amongst most users is initially dubbed as a ‘killer’ device. After a while, the killer finds itself in it’s own coffin.
Continue reading “Killing and Dying Technologies”

Facebook is BACK, boys!

facebook timeline

The title says it all. It’s almost three in the morning here and my eyeballs want to pop out. Just a few hours ago I was tuned in to F8, like every year, yet this time I felt a kick. I remember the first ever F8 I saw when Mark Zuckerberg revealed Facebook’s API and I was totally blown away. I remember I wrote a tiny Facebook app during my summer training for college. Still remember those expressions when I delivered the presentation. Those teachers had no clue what I was showing them.
Continue reading “Facebook is BACK, boys!”

The Buttons on the Web

facebook subscriptionsThere’s something odd yet enticing about the buttons you see on the web. Every button appears coated with sugar or melted chocolate. So when such a thing appears on a page, it grabs your eyeballs and somehow tells your brain to pass on a signal to your hand and your fingers click on it. It happens in less than a fraction of a second and at times you don’t even know what that button does. Take the newly introduced Subscriptions feature on Facebook, for example, it allows you to subscribe to another user’s public feed (in case you’re not in their friend’s list) or manage updates you’ll receive from that user (if they are your friend).

If you’ve seen this button alongside a profile recently, chances are that you’ve clicked it first and then when updates from that stranger started appearing on your newsfeed, you went nuts. This isn’t abnormal. It happens to the best of us and it’s an obvious reason why we have buttons all over the web. I will not get into the design thought that goes behind creating these but rather the human aspect of it.
Continue reading “The Buttons on the Web”

Mark Zuckerberg Reviews Google+

google plus

The past week has been really interesting. Apart from working on something really awesome that we’re going to announce this coming Wednesday, I also got a chance to play around with Google’s new kid they call Google+. It’s a funny name because I thought it was just a cover for their +1 button. Running Facebook’s day to day operations sucks the juice out of my life but still I still decided to give it a shot.
Continue reading “Mark Zuckerberg Reviews Google+”

Secure your Facebook profile with Login Approvals

how to secure facebook profile

Facebook has finally rolled out it’s Login Approvals security feature for all users. The new feature would help users secure their profile from malicious users and prevent unauthorized access to user profiles. Login Approvals is a Two-Factor Authentication system that is similar to the ones used by various banks for online transactions. The system requires a user to enter a security code while logging in from a new device or a computer.

I feel every user must enable this feature to make their profiles more secure. Here’s how to do it:
Continue reading “Secure your Facebook profile with Login Approvals”