Mike Isaac

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Facebook Wants to Bring Its Home to the World


Asa Mathat / AllThingsD.com

Wherever you go, Facebook wants you to feel at Home.

Not in a Marriott sort of way. The company will release its Facebook Home mobile application software — the all-inclusive Facebook-ification of your Android device — to the rest of the world on Tuesday, pushing harder toward building its international user base by invading the fastest-growing computing devices on the planet: Smartphones.

Facebook Home made its debut in the U.S. recently, albeit in a somewhat limited capacity. Initially, the software will work on only a handful of Android mobile phones, and comes preloaded on the HTC First, the “first” device to come with Home slapped on it directly out of the box.

This won’t be the case for long. Facebook doesn’t want its sweet, sweet content relegated to the inside of an app container forever. It’s the whole point behind Home, which allows items like Messenger Chat Heads to pervasively follow you around the device as you weave in and out of other apps. It’s the philosophy behind Cover Feed, a never-ending flow of shared friend photos and status updates streaming through the front face of your phone at all times.

“We’ve been trying to get that content out in front of people first for a long time,” Facebook CTO Mike Schroepfer said at our D: Dive Into Mobile conference on Tuesday. “Facebook Home gives you an opportunity to see content during those in-between moments on your phone.”

So, the end game, then, is to get that sort of experience on as many phones as it possibly can — which means heavily targeting Android, the mobile smartphone OS currently dominating global market share. To get there, Facebook can either secure more deals with carriers and manufacturers to preload the software on the phones, or, more likely, try to drum up enough excitement to get consumers to download it from the Google Play store themselves.

International markets are clearly important to Facebook (and as I’ve argued, those markets are pretty much the whole point of building Facebook Home). Most everywhere outside of North America are key areas of expansion for the social network, which has already largely penetrated the U.S. population.

These are also the areas in which Facebook faces its stiffest competition. Smaller companies like WhatsApp, Line, KakaoTalk and WeChat are dominant in parts of Europe, Asia, South America and other potential growth areas. Facebook needs to move in and act fast to deal with the massive influx of competition.

Time to watch the Facebook Home downloads flow — or not.

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