As news filters through that the elusive Facebook phone has been delayed again, BurnTech.TV asks “will we ever see a Facebook SmartPhone?”
The premise is simple. You take the most popular social network in history, which delivers some of the most astounding user metrics stats that have ever been seen:
And you merge it with a smartphone, allowing people to seamlessly integrate their online communication with their principal communications device. It’s so much of a winner on paper that it should have been executed years before their IPO, yet in mid-2013, we’re still awaiting this illusive device in Europe. Surely done right, this phone could have sold 10s of millions of units, with rocket fueled growth powered by the rapid growth that the social network experienced 2006-2010?
So did Facebook get it totally wrong? On the back of disappointing USA sales, we are now hearing from Everything Everywhere (EE) that the EU launch will be delayed, yet it begs the question as to whether we’ll ever see this device here.
What is the ‘Facebook Phone’?
The Facebook phone is an HTC manufactured smartphone which boasts of much deeper integrations into Facebook. Facebook’s presence on the device is much more than your standard app, and instead the Facebook phone features the Facebook flavour throughout.
Mark Zuckerberg launched the software integration with the HTC Home on the promise it would “change the relationship” people have with their phones. The free-to-download software essentially replaces the phone’s home screen with a Facebook feed and chat options, which makes the Facebook experience symbiotic with the smartphone.
The weak USA sales may be indicative of the problems that the social media giant is having. They are still experiencing global growth, but the core markets, like the USA and Western Europe are now losing the critical early adopter market. These early adopter users are increasingly turning to rival social media sites, such as Instagram (Facebook owned) and Twitter, where they are finding greater freedom as they’re less likely to have their parents and wider family as ‘friends’ on these networks.
Wrong time, wrong partner?
The delayed EU launch comes at a time of growing uncertainty at HTC. The company have been coming under increasing pressure as it becomes clearer that they’re losing the Android battle with Samsung. This has led to a series of senior executives leaving. In recent months, chief product officer Kouji Koudera, Asian chief executive Lennard Hoornik and the firm’s director of global communications Jason Gordon have all departed. Its believed that an additional 5 senior staff have also departed and that up to 3 more are in line to leave before 2014. Indeed Eric Lin, who formerly headed up product strategy at HTC and now does similar at Skype, recently tweeted “To all my friends still at @HTC – just quit. Leave now”
In amongst all of this drama, HTC have been losing market share. It’s hardly surprising with such senior departures that their market share is heading south, but what is alarming is that their income has hit is lowest point in eight years.
All of this points towards a manufacturer on a downward curve, which questions the logic behind Facebook’s partnership with them.Whilst the Facebook partnership was meant to deliver their next phase of growth, it has instead ended with heavy discounts on the Facebook model and the device being dropped by AT&T, who are the largest mobile network in the states. So what does the future hold for a true Facebook phone? The two companies are looking to work through user feedback and to come back with something bigger and better, but has the market opportunity began to slip them by?