Yesterday, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg took the stage at a press event in Menlo Park, Calif., and introduced a suite of Android apps called Home. Home is a far cry from that long-prophesied Facebook phone, but it does make Android handsets a whole lot more... Facebookier.
That's good news for Facebook, which wants all the eyeballs it can get, and good news for those extreme Facebook users who do not like to be separated from Facebook, ever.
But not everyone shares in the Facebook Home glee. In a post today at the official Microsoft blog, Frank X. Shaw, a communications exec at the Redmond giant, noted that Facebook Home would be pretty cool, if the concept hadn't already been invented by Microsoft.
"I tuned into the coverage of the Facebook Home event yesterday and actually had to check my calendar a few times," Shaw writes. "Not to see if it was still April Fools Day, but to see if it was somehow still 2011. Because the content of the presentation was remarkably similar to the launch event we did for Windows Phone two years ago."
The basic gist of the post is this: the Windows Phone development team pioneered much of what Zuckerberg says is pivotal to the Facebook Home platform. For example, Facebook Home includes something called Chat Heads, which combines various types of messages – IMs, SMS texts, and Facebook messages – into a single stream. That feature, Shaw notes, is already available on Windows Phone devices.
Shaw then goes on to take a few shots at Android, a mobile OS that has been criticized for being too abstruse.
"[A]s Android owners know, that platform is complicated enough without adding another skin built around another metaphor, on top of what is already a custom variant of the OS," Shaw continues, "So, while we applaud Facebook for working to give some Android owners a taste of what a 'people-centric' phone can be like, we’d humbly like to suggest that you get the real thing, and simply upgrade to a Windows Phone."
"If I were [Apple CEO] Tim Cook," Manjoo writes, "I’d be especially worried that Facebook might solve one of Android’s biggest problems – its 'fragmented' ecosystem, in which every Android phone looks and works a little differently (and usually, not very well). This has long been a chief selling point for Apple: If you learn to use an iPhone once, you’ve learned to use it forever – all other models will always work more or less the same way. Now Facebook could ruin that advantage."
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