The Buffy Story: Facebook’s Long Road Home to an Android Phone
No, Facebook has not built its own smartphone. It’s done something potentially more disruptive: The company has developed software designed to let any Android phone become a Facebook phone. And, to get things started, it partnered with HTC to show what just such a phone would look like.
If this all sounds familiar, it should. That’s basically what AllThingsD said Facebook was up to — back in 2011.
At a Thursday event, Facebook uncrated Home, a family of apps that subsumes the typical Android UI with an overlay of the Facebook experience.
“We are not building a phone, and we are not building an operating system,” Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said during Home’s unveiling this morning. “But we’re also building something a whole lot deeper than just an ordinary app.”
That’s pretty close to what AllThingsD senior editors Ina Fried and Liz Gannes described in their 2011 series exploring Facebook’s mobile ambitions and “Buffy,” the project in which Home had its origins. That series was particularly prescient in light of today’s announcement and is well worth another read for deeper insight into Facebook’s latest foray into mobile.
Many of the same opportunities and challenges raised in that series still exist today. However, Facebook managed to avoid one set of issues by opting not to fork Google’s operating system and instead maintain compatibility and access to Google’s services.
But, in taking so long to build its Home, Facebook now has to compete against a range of other alternatives to the standard Apple and Google experiences, including Firefox OS, Windows Phone and BlackBerry 10.
Follow the links below to read up on Buffy, the effort that would ultimately birth Home.