If there’s one key area that social network giant Facebook has been weak in, its the mobile arena.
Users of the official Facebook app for both major platforms Android and iPhone, as well as other handsets manufacturers, have had to dealt with slow loads, poor user interfaces, bugs and other such quirks.
This is especially true when comparing the Facebook mobile experience to the Google+ one, with the Android app in particular offering a seamless experience.
Facebook, for their part, are clearly aware of this. There are rumours that they’ll be presenting the “Facebook phone” at a special event this week, and Mark Zuckerberg has often been cited as telling his mobile developers they need to up their game.
However, a recent media update would suggest Facebook isn’t just resting its laurels on a new Android-powered Facebook phone – it’s also going much more integrated with mobile leading its strategy for the remainder of 2013 and beyond.
Reanimating “The FaceBook” for the Connected Consumer
Rumoured to have been in production for the last six months, The FaceBook (in a nice tip to the company’s original name) is a tech-laden tablet that’s set to go head-to-head with the MacBook Air and the new, extremely powerful-looking Google Chromebook Pixel.
Built solely for the Facebook user, The FaceBook looks set to be the Palo Alto giant’s final piece of the puzzle when it comes to owning the social web. It’s no secret that the platform is being shaped to ensure users never need to go anywhere else, as brands, e-commerce, graph search and more integrate to offer the complete experience.
Facebook doesn’t want people using Google, and the back-and -forth between the two tech giants has seen the battle often get ugly as users are bombarded with why one network is better than the other.
Google seemed to have taken the lead, with its Google+ network integrating across all Google properties and allowing Plussers to have access to pretty much everything they need in one place.
However, Facebook has a much higher user base, as well as one key factor – the Facebook experience is such a heavy part of web users’ culture now, it’d be hard for many to leave.
The FaceBook tablet aims to ensure there’s no need to.
The FaceBook Integrated Experience
Taking a lesson from Google and how their G+ user can access all of google’s main properties from one key home base (Google+), Facebook has made some interesting decisions when it comes to its new The FaceBook.
- Facebook will launch its own version of the App store, and when you connect you switch on The FaceBook, all your current apps and games will be synced for you.
- Built with a high-density retina display, The FaceBook will take a picture of your face while powering up, and cross-reference the image with your personal photos to ensure you are the official user of the account. This is to prevent future hacking.
- Eye-tracking and sentiment detection software will let Facebook know where on your profile you’re looking the most, and tailor each visit for you. This is Facebook’s attempt to truly serve users ads that they’re interested in, increasing the propensity of a click.
- Voice recognition will allow you to talk and these will be posted as text updates for users without The FaceBook, and voice updates for other tablet users.
- Running its own version of a Google+ Hangout (thanks to Facebook’s partnership with Skype), The FaceBook will detect who you speak with the most and automatically connect with those people when they’re online. Using the eye-tracking and sentiment detection software again will allow Facebook to see when you’re happy to talk with someone and when you want to ignore, and will act accordingly.
- The camera will detect your background and change your profile colour scheme to match your surroundings and mood, using Chameleon™ technology.
These are just some of the early stats and features that have been shared so far. But it’s clear to see from just these alone how seriously Facebook is taking this shifting trend to mobile, smartphone-powered browsing experiences.
With a suggested price point of $999, keeping it under the magic thousand dollar number, it’s also clear Facebook have high hopes of attracting a large number of its existing web-based user base when The FaceBook is launched later this year.
Moving the Old to the New – What Next?
One of the big questions that The FaceBook poses is, what happens now for the web version of Facebook? After all, even though such a technology-enabled tablet is coming in at under a thousand bucks, that’s still out of the reach of many of Facebook’s current users.
The hope for those that can’t initially afford The FaceBook is that they’ll first migrate to the rumoured Facebook phone, and once they’ve had that a year, they will be eligible for a free upgrade to The FaceBook itself.
If Facebook can take the hit on the cost of that – and if any company can, it’s probably Facebook – then we might just be seeing the start of Zuckerberg’s global private social network be taking shape.
Where that leaves Google, Twitter, etc, is anyone’s guess – one thing’s for sure, the next 12 months is going to be one heck of a battlefield.
Full details of The FaceBook announcement can be found here.