Financial News

  • 4 April 2013, 14:15

Facebook To Reveal 'New Home On Android' Move

Facebook is widely expected to unveil a homescreen for smartphones later, after inviting guests to "come see our new home on Android".

The American social media giant has refused to give any further details about the California event, beyond promising a "product announcement".

The event has generated widespread interest online, where much speculation surrounds the rumoured Facebook homescreen which analysts suggest would run on Google's mobile operating system Android.

Leaked images of what is claimed to be a "Facebook phone" have also appeared on websites, feeding theories that the social network could showcase a new HTC mobile made with integrated Facebook features.

Such a move would help Facebook boost its already booming mobile advertising revenue.

EMarketer said it expects Facebook to reap $965m (641m) in US mobile ad revenue in 2013. That is about 2.5 times the $391m (260m) in 2012, the first year that Facebook started showing mobile ads.

Clark Fredricksen, vice president at eMarketer, said it's "tough to speculate" how much effect the latest move would have.

At the same time, he says: "There are some clear reasons why a deeper integration with mobile operating systems and handsets make sense for Facebook.

He added "the more deeply Facebook can engage consumers, no matter what device or operating system or handset", the better.

Stuart Miles, founder of technology and gadget site Pocket-lint, said: "My initial thought was that they couldn't possibly be launching a phone because that would be silly, because every phone is already a Facebook phone.

"I think ultimately this will be an enhanced app that you can run from your homescreen on Android which will give you the feeling that your phone is a Facebook phone."

The launch of an "enhanced app" would reinforce Facebook's "mobile first" attitude, he said, as users increasingly monitor the social networking site from smartphones and tablets, rather than desktop computers.

According to the site, more than 680 million of its one billion-plus users now check Facebook from mobile devices.

Ernest Doku, telecoms expert at comparison site uSwitch.com, said the arrival of a 'Facebook phone' would mark a new departure for mobile devices.

"The device is a concerted bid for Facebook to make a play for the eyeballs of millions of consumers, and become the hub from which they interact with all aspects of their smartphone.

"We should expect Facebook to greet mobile users when they turn their smartphones on in the morning, and to be the core of the user's experience - integral to searching, surfing and interacting."

Both Facebook and HTC have refused to comment on the speculation surrounding the announcement which will be broadcast live online at 6pm (10am Pacific time).

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