Facebook's new super-app wants to live off Google. The social network's Home software, unveiled on Thursday, sits on top of the Android smartphone operating system.
That encourages people to use Facebook over rival services. Google built Android, but Mark Zuckerberg's company plainly likes the idea of grabbing a piece of it.
Android came to exist partly because Google didn't want one company, Apple, controlling the software running all the world's smartphones and tablets.
By developing its own operating system, Google could ensure that services such as Gmail, YouTube and its search engine would run smoothly on phones and tablets - and that it would collect advertising dollars.
The huge success of Android - now powering over half of all US smartphones, according to Comscore - owes much to its being freely available to any hardware maker, in stark contrast to Apple's closed approach.
Mark Zuckerberg speaks during a Facebook press event in Menlo Park. (Reuters)
Now, though, just as Google marshaled the Internet through its service and made money out of doing so, Facebook's new software largely supplants the Android interface for users.
In Home, pictures and messages from friends will appear on a device's lock and home screen, users can text each other directly, and notifications will pop up. Other services like video and search will surely appear soon.
In short, people will have more reasons and require fewer screen-taps to use Facebook's tools than Google's Gmail, YouTube and the like.
That in turn will probably mean more advertisements served by Facebook and fewer by Google, especially considering the 680 million active monthly users that Zuckerberg's company claims.
Mark Zuckerberg during a Facebook press event to introduce 'Home' a Facebook app suite that integrates with Android in Menlo Park. (Reuters)
Google's wariness over Facebook has increasingly morphed into active rivalry, as evidenced by the search giant's attempts to build its own social network, Google+.
Facebook in turn moved into core Google territory, launching a search service earlier this year. The nature of the Home software potentially aggravates these tensions.
Google faces limits, however, in how it can react. Restricting access to Home might annoy users and bring antitrust regulators calling. But it shouldn't surprise anyone if future tweaks to Android make Google's services slightly more prominent, smooth and speedy than Facebook's.
If the social network wants to take a bite out of Google, the feeling assuredly is mutual.
Facebook stakes out Android 'home' to battle rivals
Facebook on Thursday unveiled a software suite which stakes out a "home
" on Android smartphones as it steps up its challenge to Apple and Google in the booming mobile market.
Facebook called the new software "a new way to turn your Android phone into a great, living, social phone."
First phones with Facebook's "Home"
AT&T Inc will exclusively sell the first smartphones pre-loaded with Facebook Inc's new family of "Home" applications starting April 12, the wireless carrier said on Thursday.
Taiwan's HTC Corp will manufacture the phones, to be called HTC First, the company said.
HTC First will be available for pre-order today for $99.99 The HTC First runs on AT&T 4G LTE, the nation's fastest 4G LTE network
"The HTC First will offer the best Facebook Home experience on mobile, right out of the box. That's why we're committed to this phone and making it exclusive in our stores," said Ralph de la Vega.
Mark Zuckerberg during a Facebook press event to introduce 'Home' a Facebook app suite that integrates with Android in Menlo Park, California. (Reuters)
"HTC has a track record of providing beautiful hardware design, and of being first-to-market with smartphone innovations," said Peter Chou.
Home will be available as a download starting on April 12, and will initially work on a limited number of devices.
(With Reuters and AFP inputs)
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Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook's co-founder and chief executive speaks during a Facebook press event in Menlo Park, California. (Reuters)