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Facebook Home on iPhone? Not a chance, say experts

Gregg Keizer | April 18, 2013
There is absolutely no way that Apple will surrender its iPhone interface to Facebook Home

What the analysts did think likely: Facebook adding some features included in Home on Android to the Facebook apps already available for iOS or Windows Phone. Facebook did just that only yesterday, when it added "Chat Heads" to Facebook on iPhone.

"They could maybe do a subset of Home," said Gold of the product on iOS. "That would be 'Facebook Trailer,' or 'Facebook Tent.' Maybe 'Facebook Pup Tent.'"

Nor has Facebook Home on Microsoft's Windows Phone 8 much chance, the analysts argued.

"I just don't see what Microsoft could gain outside of a small potential increase in sales if Home works out," said Moorhead.

Microsoft executives have hinted as much. Just after Facebook unveiled Home, Microsoft's head of communications, Frank Shaw, belittled it as little more than a copy of Windows Phone circa 2011.

Gold, who characterized Facebook Home as a "hostile takeover" of Android smartphones, said the openness of Google's OS, the fact that developers are not limited to Google Play to distribute their wares, makes Home possible on that platform. Not so for iOS and Windows Phone 8. Both Apple and Microsoft restrict app delivery to their own stores, and thus have veto power.

"Apple in particular keeps very tight control over what gets on the iPhone," Gold said. "I'd be shocked if Apple allowed Facebook Home. There have been others who have tried to do much less who have been bumped."

A rejection of Facebook Home by Apple -- if it's talking with Facebook about possibilities -- would not materially harm its relationship with Zuckerberg's company: Apple already integrates Facebook with iOS in ways that other developers only dream of.

In any case, Facebook Home may not, in the end, be worth Apple's or Microsoft's time.

"I think that the jury is still very much out whether [Facebook Home] will be successful," said Baker as he cited anecdotal evidence that even active Facebook users have told him the concept was, no pun intended, "Way too much in your face."

Gold agreed. "Facebook Home appeals to the really die-hard Facebook fans, but not to those who use it just three minutes a day," he said. "Most people won't like the idea of Facebook taking over their phones."

 

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