Less than two months after unveiling, investors can now consider Facebook (NASDAQ:FB) Home something of a flop. The social network's grand plan to hijack Google (NASDAQ:GOOGL) Android devices, prioritizing its own services over Big G's, is off to a bad start.
The HTC First, which was the first device to carry the software suite pre-installed, promptly saw its on-contract price slashed from $100 to $1 at exclusive carrier AT&T. That was shortly followed by reports that Ma Bell was interested in discontinuing the device as soon as it satisfied its retail display obligations with the Taiwanese OEM.
The app isn't doing so well in Google Play, either. After a sharp jump after release, installs have posted a similarly sharp drop, and Android users only give it an underwhelming 2.3 star rating on average. The most common rating is the discouraging 1 star.
Is Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) inadvertently to blame for Home's cold reception?
iPhone phone Home
TechCrunch reports that many of the Facebook engineers that were building Home are iPhone users. iPhones have long been standard issue to professional Facebookers, although employees could request an Android.
iPhone usage among Facebook employees was so prevalent that the company actively tried to promote its talent to switch to Android to get a better feel for the platform. With Facebook's heavy emphasis on mobile recently and Android's utter global domination, learning the ins and outs of Android was key.
For what Facebook wants to accomplish with Home, iOS simply isn't an option considering Apple isn't open to third parties revamping its entire interface. Even though Home is the beginning of a nightmare for Google, the search giant is sticking to its guns and publicly supporting its ad rival's innovation. Big G's tone might change behind closed doors, though.
(By the same token, wanting to understand Android better is the whole reason why I personally purchased a Nexus 4, despite being a fiercely loyal iPhone user.)
This lack of experience from an Android user's perspective may have adversely affected Home, since developers didn't realize how important things like widgets are to users, among other features that Android has that iOS lacks. Strangely, Home also doesn't have a dock, a core interface element that both platforms lean heavily on.
Even though Home has flopped initially, I'm sticking by my assessment that it's the perfect strategy. Home was an experiment, and Facebook will do better next time.