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Facebook users are not making themselves at Home, analyst says

May 01, 2013|By Jessica Guynn
  • Facebook Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg announced Facebook Home at the company's Menlo Park, Calif., headquarters on April 4.
Facebook Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg announced Facebook Home at the… (Justin Sullivan / Getty…)

SAN FRANCISCO -- Facebook users are apparently not making themselves at Home.

Facebook Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg unveiled Home –- Facebook's new Android software for mobile phones -- on April 4 to much fanfare. It hit the Google Play store on April 12.

Despite some splashy (and quirky) commercials -- including one with Zuckerberg standing in a swimming pool -- only a tiny fraction of Facebook users has installed the softwaret. And the HTC First, the first phone to preload the software, isn't selling briskly, one analyst reports.

The current status of Home is likely to be quite a topic of interest Wednesday during Facebook’s first-quarter conference call with analysts.

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"Our checks show Facebook's recently launched new Android app -- Home -- has had a rough start," Sterne Agee & Leach analyst Arvind Bhatia said in a research note. "A local AT&T store we checked with told us it had not sold a single HTC First phone (the dedicated phone that comes with Home preloaded) as of last week."

The chief complaint from users on Google Play: The app takes over the phone and makes it difficult to use other apps. (That, of course, was the point of the home-screen takeover.) Yet many folks have reported being surprised by the addictive quality of the app.

"Users who really liked the app (16% of users gave a perfect 5 rating to the app) have praised the simplicity and elegance of the design, the friendly user interface and the usefulness of Chat Heads. Our view is that the reality is somewhere in between," Bhatia said. "Home will probably be great for the avid Facebook users but it is unlikely to have mass appeal — at least not in its current version. Recall, FB plans to update this app on a monthly basis and we are hopeful the future iterations will make the app more appealing for the broader audience."

Of course, it's important to also note that these lackluster reviews are all coming before Facebook introduces ads into the Cover Feed.

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