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back to article Operators look on in horror as Facebook takes mobe users Home

Facebook Home reskins a phone much the same way that operators have been trying - and repeatedly failing - to do for more than a decade. But can Zuckerberg really lock the the mobile customer down into its UI and achieve the operators' nirvana of customer ownership? Facebook Home, announced last week, takes a vanilla phone and …

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Happy

Poor, poor operators

How my heart bleeds for them. Not.

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FAIL

Re: Poor, poor operators

You'd have to have a heart of stone not to laugh at the operators.

They're like a collection of unruly puppies. They're desperate to be loved, they bounce around at random, poo all over their own bed, they chew and break something every so often and couldn't organise the proverbial piss-up in a brewery.

It provokes a mixture of pity and laughter from me (mostly laughter), as they try to fight off the competition - who actually seem to have some idea of what the customers want. The only reason I feel any slight sympathy for them is that I don't find Apple or Google particularly appealing either.

I guess a big, fat fail icon is appropriate here...

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Re: Poor, poor operators

When I say puppies, I don't mean cute Retrievers or Labradors, or intelligent ones, but obviously stupid, ugly ones.

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Re: Poor, poor operators

Hey at least Facebook and Google haven't sent me a letter recently increasing the price of my fixed-term contract due to rising costs "because inflation". Funny, my costs have similarly gone up "because inflation" yet I haven't demanded a discount from them...

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Stop

Re: Poor, poor operators

Sigh. Maybe instead of wasting their money on this random shit, the operators could... I dunno, maybe build a decent network and stop their predatory pricing. Then, maybe then, they might get some customer loyalty.

As to Facebook, whaddya want to bet that this will mean they won't ever fix their shitty android app. Worst app ever... Well, second worst after apple maps...

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Linux

Ah the Facebile phone, anyone going to buy one ? Anyone ?

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No, its just another Android phone with this FB skin pre-loaded.

Anyways, I use the Ice Cream Sandwich 'battery saver' mode, which means that my phone doesn't use its data connection when in standby to receive live email / instant messages etc- so even if I wanted my lock-screen to be constantly updated with a succession of baby/puppy/comedy images (I don't), it would be too much of a power drain.

The Sony skin on my handset has some sort of FB integration pre-loaded- exactly what I don't know, as I have never logged in to it for fear of Bad Things happening (like my contacts' email addresses being replaced with @Facebook). If I ever get around to rooting the phone, I'll get rid of it, along with a currently unremovable McAfee trial.

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Facepalm

"No, its just another Android phone with this FB skin pre-loaded." -- Thanks Dave, I actually hadn't read the article </sarc>

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Coffee/keyboard

Facebile?

More like Faece-bile.

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Re: Facebile?

Faecesbook.

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The difference between Facebook and e.g. Vodafone 360

People go to Facebook whereas operator-supplied social networks, e-mail and so on are some strange thing that no-one wants because of lack of users and they've already got Facebook/gmail, and inevitably implodes a couple of years later due to lack of users.

Walled gardens to keep users in won't work when the users are already out of them, instead what would keep users in would be making it easier to use outside services with that operator (e.g. instant notification, cloud storage to hold files which can be linked to) and perhaps come pre-defined following the operator on Facebook, Twitter, or whatever.

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Re: The difference between Facebook and e.g. Vodafone 360

There's plenty of good stuff the operators could have done, if only they'd had half an ounce of sense. Also they needed the vision not to try to screw all the customers' money out of them on day one, you need to be cheap at first, and build up your services until they're popular. With their control of billing they had years of an open goal, which they managed to miss every time they tried. I guess their greed stopped them sprinkling some good free stuff in with the paid-for stuff. They couldn't even come up with apps to manage your bills and add-on services, let alone free storage decent email.

I think the other major problem was their total inability to cooperate. It makes sense that you worry most about your direct competitors I suppose, but despite repeated attempts they were totally unable to come up with any kind of standards they could all build on.

I suppose one big disadvantage is a customer is more likely to be loyal to Apple or Android, than they are to Vodafone or Orange. They were more concerned about creating the lock-in than they were about giving the customer the goodies that make them buy-in to the lock-in voluntarily. Some people move, but I know many happy 'Droid and Apple users, I don't know any loyalists to mobile companies. There used to be an army of Orange fanatics (I include myself), who'd been with them since the 90s and loved the customer service, but that all went when France Telecom bought them, and I've not found much difference in the operators since.

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Re: The difference between Facebook and e.g. Vodafone 360

" ...their total inability to cooperate.."

From the article: "... operators were frightened of Nokia's dominance ....."

People who aren't trustworthy have difficuly in trusting other people.

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Re: The difference between Facebook and e.g. Vodafone 360

"They were more concerned about creating the lock-in than they were about giving the customer the goodies that make them buy-in to the lock-in voluntarily."

Right there is the key.

To get something to work which people aren't bothered about, you must make things they are bothered about which, coincidentally, need them to use the thing they aren't bothered about.

Had the operators had some foresight, they could have easily concocted a standard to allow people to buy in app stores and have the cost billed through them. That would have been a great money spinner for them.

I think it's a lot like the UK government ID cards. Although we are here on a tech forum where most just thought it was a bad idea from the beginning, most non-techies I know thought it was a reasonably good idea but didn't see much benefit. The government could have made it a lot more attractive. Adding the ability to store payment cards, loyalty cards, memberships etc. on it would have swayed many, for example. Incorporating an electronic cash system would have brought more into the fold. Hell, even I would have been tempted with that lot. But instead, they plodded along with the core idea, and it failed to gain any real interest from the public.

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Re: The difference between Facebook and e.g. Vodafone 360

I remember the horror that was Vodafone 360. I had a temporary phone while mine was being repaired and it was fully integrated with 360.

With every other social network site, it doesn't matter what platform you uses, anyone can get on. With 360, only Vodafone users could get on.

Maybe it was an idea by Vodafone to try and get people over to their network, but it was a badly thought out one. I don't really care what phone network my friends are on. And none of them are going to change network providers just to see me on one social network, when everyone can see everyone else on the several existing ones, just like I'm not going to run out and buy a Blackberry or iPhone because some of the communication methods only work with their own brand of phone.

This one might have the edge, but there are many of us who leave 3g turned off and prefer to use free WiFi where possible and only turn it on to check facebook down the pub and back off again. Though that does make me sound like my elderly parents when I bought them their first mobile and they would turn the handset off between calls.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: The difference between Facebook and e.g. Vodafone 360

> There used to be an army of Orange fanatics (I include myself), who'd been with them since the 90s and

> loved the customer service, but that all went when France Telecom bought them, and I've not found

> much difference in the operators since.

If I could up vote you twice I would. What France Telecom did to Orange was little short of criminal...

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FAIL

My Prediction

Watch Facebook Home fail miserably.

You can already start to see the backlash as users are coming to the realisation that they don't want Facebook at the centre of everything...

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Re: My Prediction

Are you sure about that Barry? Seems a bit too much like wishful thinking to me. There is an anti-Facebook backlash, I agree - it's become a fashionable opinion to hold. But there are a lot of very loyal users, who post loads of stuff on there, every day, and absolutely love to use it on their phones. They take loads of photos on them, and spray them all over Facebook, plus they've got lots of friends on it, and I doubt it would take much persuasion from Facebook for them to send all their messages via Facebook and WiFi, rather than the carriers.

Facebook may lose the fashion-conscious and the younger users, but they seem to have gained a stranglehold on a lot of parents and grandparents. And they're the people who've actually got the money. Advertisers seem obsessed with chasing the teen market (I guess it makes them feel young), but it's the middle aged and old who've got all the cash.

Of course, given what the other Facebook apps have been like, there's a good chance it will be a hideous, unusable piece of shit. Like the Facebook web user interface, come to think of it...

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Anonymous Coward

Re: My Prediction

Get with the program BITCH!

Everyone and I mean everyone wants to be MORE SOCIAL

/Zuck

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Re: My Prediction

Define "fail." If they get even a 5% adoption rate, their mobile ad revenue goes thru the roof. That 5% will grow as FB adds features.

I'm sure I'll install it out of morbid curiosity, and then remove it to free up resources. I have enough malware on my phone courtesy the operators already.

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FAIL

Re: My Prediction

I never understood how FB Home should be the Holy Grail for most of the market... business people? Mom&Pop? Corporate world? IT folks? iDrones? They are all out, for sure.

What's left, millions of teens/frat boys? There, have at it, Sugarhill.

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Re: My Prediction

Funny thing about this 'backlash': the people who are complaining that fb is taking over their lives are all fb users and they keep on using fb. The backlash is just talk.

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Why would anyone want this?

I'm seriously, you guys. Why?

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Re: Why would anyone want this?

er, because its how they already contact all their friends... and its all over 3g, which is flat rate.

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Re: Why would anyone want this?

>Re: Why would anyone want this?

Convenience. Not everybody has got around to collecting telephone numbers and email addresses from everybody they might wish to contact- Facebook often serves as a glorified addresses book and messaging system. Even from people who have my email address, I regularly receive messages sent through Facebook (forwarded to my Gmail)- which is annoying since replying to them is a long-winded processes for me (because I refuse to activate my phone's FB integration, and keep it at arms-length in the browser).

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Re: Why would anyone want this?

Just FYI, you can reply to the facebook notification and it will be added to the conversation on the facebook website. No need to activate your phone's FB integration.

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Gav
Alert

Re: Why would anyone want this?

Want to know the scary thing? Now that Facebook has done this, you can bet all the other operators/manufacturers are going to attempt to follow all the more. We can all look forward to even more compulsory crapware pre-installed on our smartphones that attempt to lock us into their share of the markets and snaffle our personal data. All to enhance your "experience", of course. Nothing to do with making them more money.

All the more reason to root your phone and ditch the stuff they force on you.

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Happy

Re: Why would anyone want this?

Just buy a Nexus and you're good. As long as all the drivers are available to an open source community you should be able to always find a distro with no crap.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Why would anyone want this?

Reminds of the crappy way ISPs used to rebrand Internet Explorer etc.

First thing I always did was remove their crap.

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Flame

Re: Why would anyone want this?

Never allow the ISP disc into your computer! Always configure manually. It took me hours to clean the BT spyware off my Dad's PC, when he used their disc once. They'd got this remote desktop tool for their support guys that would re-install itself even if you un-installed and deleted it. I suppose I could have left it on there, but apart from being a security risk it also tended to crash every other time you booted the computer, and flash annoying messages all over the screen at random.

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Ergh, so it's a skin that overrides your phones own skin? No ta, I waited long enough for someone to make a sweet Deus Ex theme for my rom (Paranoid Android), and I'm far too much in love with the elegant simplicity and gold trim I have now achieved.

An interface doesn't need to be busy to be useful.

Facebook already annoys me by always defaulting to shitty mobile view on my phone, forcing me to reload it in desktop mode, they aint going to win any friends by commandeering the entire interface with shitty mobile view.

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>Facebook already annoys me by always defaulting to shitty mobile view on my phone

I think the Dolphin browser allows you to set 'desktop' as its default user agent.

Anyway, enough of this - when is The Reg going to release its own Android skin?! : P

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Alert

Maybe good for 14 year olds...

But maybe that's the idea. Like cigarette companies' advertising campaigns that strive (or at least used to) to grab the next generation of smokers before they're even old enough. If this ends up coming with enough smart phones, which are being purchased for (if not by) younger and younger users every day, when little Keegan or Tyler grows up, they will come to expect it as their UI and settle for nothing less.

Personally I don't much care for social media sites and this would be worse than useless for me, but everyone laughed at Apple too when there were rumblings about the first iPad. I just sincerely hope this doesn't take off.

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Re: Maybe good for 14 year olds...

It might be aimed at teenagers, if they go for cheap handsets, maybe with subsidies. And especially if the operators can be signed up to give cheap contracts where all the Facebook messages are free, then it could take over from BBM. But I've read many suggestions that teenagers are now less Facebook obsessed.

So I'm thinking it'll be people like my sister-in-law. She's got 2 kids under 6, last time I sorted out her phone she had over 800 pictures of the kids on there (not backed up), and I'm now her hero for saving them when it died. Probably a quarter of those piccies are on FB, and she posts loads of messages to all her other mates on there, lots of them also mothers of young kids. Not being interested in tech her phone is for texting, photographs, Facebook and a phone, in about that order. She'd probably love a FaceFone - as would many of her mates.

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Joke

Can we hear more about France Telecom's attempt to get a mobile phone to fly a 747?

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Black Helicopters

So that's what really happened to Concorde.

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I suppose it's the logical progression: from "Fly by wire" to "Fly by wireless".

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Joke

It didn't go so well.

Sorry, too soon?

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Not for the likes of us

No matter what we (I'm including most of y'all by proxy) think of the idea, we are hardly the target market. Just by reading the Reg and posting here we are almost automatically disassociated from the majority of mobile/Facebook, whatever, users. If by re-skinning an interface you make it simpler for a large number of people to get what they want more easily, you may be on to something - ask Gates or the shade of Jobs. Assuming there are a few million dedicated Facebook on mobile users and the interface works well enough, there is no reason to think that it won't have some degree of success, whether we here like it or not.

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Unhappy

Re: Not for the likes of us

I agree. For example if anyone hated my mother enough to install it on her Android phone for her, I could see her quite liking a Facebook-centric interface.

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Re: Not for the likes of us

A valid point, but that stil leaves Zuck to figure out some way of making MORE money from mobile users. There's not a lot of screen real estate on phones, so the chance of getting some decent advertising on it is limited, the users will soon tire of the battery being drained by always on GPS and the FB mobile client, and by being spammed simply for the temerity to walk past a Starbucks. That won't remove the attraction of the FB client for addicts, but who's going to pay extra for this? Not the users, 'cos they all think FB is free. Will the advertisers? Maybe in the first place, but when the (probably) dismal sales tracking results are in I can't see the party lasting.

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Re: Not for the likes of us

@Ledswinger: yes, FB have a long and disgraceful history of battery sucking Android apps with unparalleled levels of bugs. They haven't even needed GPS to achieve record power drains, just a complete inability to play nice with the system and let it manage power use.

They're the last people I'd trust to run my lock screen responsibly. Also the last people I'd trust to not open gaping security holes to make life easier for the FB sheeple.

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Trollface

I guess it would work for me!

As I have no facebook account, the interface might be quite sleek :)

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Anonymous Coward

'it's a good idea'!?

no it is not. users hate the branding crap, that is why there are already instructions on how to remove the facebook branding from this phone. Why you would want to pay over the odds for the phone in the first place is another matter.

Facebook isn't going to beat operators at their own game, it is going to fall flat on it's face repeating the same mistakes that they have made over and over. You can't force on users what they actively don't want.

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Re: 'it's a good idea'!?

"You can't force on users what they actively don't want."

Actually you can, and the mobile operators prove that. I can't think of anybody that really wants operator branding on their phone. Or the operator acting as a sluggish intermediary in handset updates. Or their phone to be filled with the IT equivalent of slag, in the form of crummy games trials, operators' tumbleweed infested online music and app stores, and the rest.

But that's exactly what the network operators continue to foist on people. Even after mucking out the Augean stables of crapps on my Voda handset, anytime there's an Android update a fresh, steaming length of Voadure is crimped out all over my handset. And its not just the network operators. The vast majority of prebuilt computers are flogged with hundreds of megabytes of bloatware that nobody asked for, and nobody would willingly pay for.

So you would certainly struggle to force customers to use these crappstores and bloatware, but the companies concerned believe that you can force things on people who don't want them.

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Re: 'it's a good idea'!?

Buy a Nexus, or something else you can run a third-party ROM on.

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Holmes

I suspect Google is loving this - Facebook Home is arguably the first app to provide a simple and obvious reason for teens and avid Facebook users (and there are a lot of the latter) rather than those of us who like Android for it adaptability to want an Android handset rather than an iOS/WP8/BB10 device. The rest of the phone is still Android complete with Gmail, Maps, Drive, Picasa and such, Facebook has just pinched the lock screen. Even Google Now is still present and correct.

This is the first time Android has had a mass-appeal and highly publicized app that can't be had anywhere else.

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Anonymous Coward

The reason a lot of people now use Facebook less and less isn't the lack of realtime information, but the overabundance of it. The balance of quantity vs quality is increasingly wrong.

Once you have more than a certain number of contacts on any platform, your updates tend to get cluttered with a minority of users who have to post everything they do. Automated updates and "liking" things made Facebook even less worth reading. A risk of deep mobile integration is that it becomes even more trivial, full of posts such as "this is the sandwich I just bought". Likely to be followed my the promotional post "you could buy the same sandwich your friend just liked using this voucher code today!"

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The Orange home screen on my phone (2011) was nice

But it was slow and you could literally see the battery dying as the home screen did nothing. Thankfully it was easy to revert to the normal one.

Oh, and if Sony is reading: I DON'T WANT GOD DAMNED FACEBOOK ON MY GOD DAMNED PHONE! Why can't we uninstall this crap?

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Re: The Orange home screen on my phone (2011) was nice

Can't you Disable it in the Apps settings? I disabled it on my old HTC Incredible running ICS, which I think was the first version that lets you do this. I've also disabled notifications from the Google Play store, because they really are annoying.

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