What is the purpose of Social Media? – To encourage and provide a platform for people to connect with each other. That seems like a pretty simple, yet powerful definition of what it actually is.
People use Social Networks for different reasons. The way I see it, Facebook is the current No.1 with over 1 billion users. In comparison, Twitter, which was introduced in 2006 (2 years after Facebook), has just over 500 million users. To me, this shows the fundamental difference between the two. Facebook allows its users to do a variety of different things. Twitter on the other hand, is far simpler; it is based on Tweets (status updates).
So, in 5 years time who is going to be out on top?
Put it simply, I would have said Twitter before Facebook released the ‘Facebook Home’ area of their business. Now, I feel I can say Twitter with some confidence. Although Facebook are currently leading, they are complicating and starting to change their network too much. Twitter are staying simple.
This morning, Mark Zuckerberg introduced ‘Facebook Home’ – “The family of apps that puts your friends at the heart of your phone”. It is essentially a way of Facebook dominating the operating system of your phone, well if you have an Android device anyway. You can either purchase a HTC phone (a Facebook phone, see image below) for $99, or wait until April 12th 2013 and download the different Facebook apps associated with Facebook Home (on Android phones).
Instead of being struck by a traditional ‘that looks pretty awesome’, I was left thinking ‘that is a desperate move from Facebook’. The way I see it; they trying too hard to force people to use Facebook on a increasingly frequent basis by encouraging them to buy a Facebook phone. Granted, it is pretty inexpensive, but will people drop their current phones to get a Facebook phone, or will they get one alongside their current device? Both are fairly unlikely. But of course there will be a some that will want one (particularly the younger generations). Furthermore, the apps associated with the device may encourage users to use Facebook increasingly, for example; its messaging function will be made easier, but it is unlikely to do what Facebook want it to do – they are relying on people to download the new apps but people already have a Facebook app that does everything, so why complicate it with a load of separate apps?
It seems like Facebook are trying to smother their users with their social network. I am very hesitant on it working – does a Facebook phone have a place in the market? – Does the brand have the power to persuade enough people to get one to make it a worthwhile venture?
Another interesting factor is that Facebook has only included their new anticipated ’Home’ apps on Android devices. Yes, Android are becoming very popular, but Apple still has its place. I can see why they have done it – exclusivity. However, if they really want everyone to use Facebook more, why not enable their app on all mobile operating systems? – perhaps they are hesitant on introducing ‘Home’ so are testing its success on Android devices.
I have consistently praised Mark Zuckerberg since I began blogging, so I still have faith that he knows what he is doing – but I am not convinced about this latest release. Mobile social networking is becoming increasingly important, but surely this is a step too high. Ultimately, I believe they lack the necessary monopoly power to effectively integrate ‘Home’ into everyday life.