They say that home is where the heart is, but this has proven untrue in Mark Zuckerberg’s social media company.
Facebook has decided to do away with its Facebook Home team, keeping its members around to work on other projects but essentially putting an end to the Facebook Home Launcher that emerged on the HTC-Facebook phone nearly a year ago.
Facebook’s Home Launcher was first offered on the HTC First (a.k.a. the Facebook phone), then placed in the Google Play Store for Android devices. Downloading the Facebook Home Launcher brought updates, statuses, and profile pics of your networks, family, and friends to your smartphone whenever your phone sat idle for a few minutes. While the Facebook Home Launcher was cute at first, it started to take a toll on some Facebook advocates who tired of seeing the same smiles, laughs, people, and even ultrasounds constantly appear on their smartphone screen.
Facebook’s Home team has yet to confirm or deny the move of its team to other projects, but the Facebook Home Launcher hasn’t been updated since January – a sign that the company probably doesn’t intend to update it in the future. The launcher was unpopular with the Facebook phone (the phone itself was unpopular), and some of its features (the popular Chat Heads, for example,) was integrated into the Facebook Messenger experience. Facebook’s commitment to Facebook Messenger is evident when you consider that the company’s decided to provide a line of distinction between its core Facebook app and the Facebook Messenger app (such as the use of email in the core app being removed sometime this year).
Facebook’s decision to launch a phone a year ago parallels Amazon’s reason to launch the Fire phone this year: both companies want to do more than just act as websites and apps. Facebook wanted to become more than just a social media app, and Jeff Bezos wanted the Amazon Fire name to be more than just the name on tablets (and the Kindle name more than the name of a reading app on smartphones and tablets). At the same time, however, Facebook users love the social media service but haven’t accepted the idea of seeing Facebook everywhere, all the time.
The HTC First (Facebook phone) didn’t do so hot, and it started selling for $0.99 down with a two-year contract at AT&T shortly after it was announced. The Amazon Fire phone will go on sale at AT&T when it launches in the US, but Bezos has been warned: if you start to see the Fire phone for $0.99 at a local AT&T retail store, it’ll be said that the Fire phone has gone the way of the Facebook phone. Amazon has a strong retail presence, but we’re not sure if seeing Amazon everywhere is any better than seeing the same from Facebook.