Press Esc to close
Thursday 27 July 2017
News updated at 1:59 AM IST

Facebook super-app wants to live off Google

Robert Cyran, Apr 5, 2013 , (Reuters Breakingviews) - , 10:45 IST
Facebook's new super-app wants to live off Google. The social network's Home software, unveiled on Thursday, sits on top of the Android smartphone operating system. That encourages people to use Facebook over rival services.

Google built Android, but Mark Zuckerberg's company plainly likes the idea of grabbing a piece of it.

Android came to exist partly because Google didn't want one company, Apple, controlling the software running all the world's smartphones and tablets. By developing its own operating system, Google could ensure that services such as Gmail, YouTube and its search engine would run smoothly on phones and tablets - and that it would collect advertising dollars.

The huge success of Android - now powering over half of all U.S. smartphones, according to Comscore - owes much to its being freely available to any hardware maker, in stark contrast to Apple's closed approach. Now, though, just as Google marshaled the Internet through its service and made money out of doing so, Facebook's new software largely supplants the Android interface for users.

In Home, pictures and messages from friends will appear on a device's lock and home screen, users can text each other directly, and notifications will pop up. Other services like video and search will surely appear soon. In short, people will have more reasons and require fewer screen-taps to use Facebook's tools than Google's Gmail, YouTube and the like. That in turn will probably mean more advertisements served by Facebook and fewer by Google, especially considering the 680 million active monthly users that Zuckerberg's company claims.

Google's wariness over Facebook has increasingly morphed into active rivalry, as evidenced by the search giant's attempts to build its own social network, Google+. Facebook in turn moved into core Google territory, launching a search service earlier this year. The nature of the Home software potentially aggravates these tensions.

Google faces limits, however, in how it can react. Restricting access to Home might annoy users and bring antitrust regulators calling. But it shouldn't surprise anyone if future tweaks to Android make Google's services slightly more prominent, smooth and speedy than Facebook's. If the social network wants to take a bite out of Google, the feeling assuredly is mutual.

CONTEXT NEWS

- Facebook on April 4 unveiled its new Home software for mobile devices running Google's Android operating system. Home acts as an interface on smartphones and similar gadgets, displaying Facebook newsfeeds and messages on a device's home screen.

- Home will be available as a download starting on April 12, and will initially work on a limited number of devices. It will come pre-installed on the HTC First handset, which goes on sale on April 12 through U.S. carrier AT&T.

(The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.)

Go to Top

Photo Gallery
Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar coming out of Raj Bhawan after meeting Governor KN Tripathi...

Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar coming out of Raj Bhawan after meeting Governor KN Tripathi...

India's Cheteshwar Pujara, left, and Shikhar Dhawan cheer each others during the first day's play...

India's Cheteshwar Pujara, left, and Shikhar Dhawan cheer each others during the first day's play...

Army officers pay homage at the Dras War Memorial on the occasion of Kargil Vijay Diwas, in Dras...

Army officers pay homage at the Dras War Memorial on the occasion of Kargil Vijay Diwas, in Dras...

Indian Women's Cricket team poses for a group photo during a press conference in Mumbai...

Indian Women's Cricket team poses for a group photo during a press conference in Mumbai...

Actor Akshay Kumar at a function organised to celebrate Kargil War Victory Day at Yashwantrao...

Actor Akshay Kumar at a function organised to celebrate Kargil War Victory Day at Yashwantrao...

Sand artist Sudarsan Pattnaik creates five sand sculptures of A P J Abdul Kalam at Puri beach...

Sand artist Sudarsan Pattnaik creates five sand sculptures of A P J Abdul Kalam at Puri beach...

Anant Maheshwari, President, Microsoft India and Rajiv Kumar, Corporate Vice President...

Anant Maheshwari, President, Microsoft India and Rajiv Kumar, Corporate Vice President...

Former Jharkhand Chief Minister Madhu Koda is seen ploughing his field, in Ranchi on Wednesday...

Former Jharkhand Chief Minister Madhu Koda is seen ploughing his field, in Ranchi on Wednesday...

Children move to safer place from a flooded village at Thiba in Birbhum district of West-Bengal...

Children move to safer place from a flooded village at Thiba in Birbhum district of West-Bengal...

Water level rise above danger level in Sipu dam after heavy rains in Deesa on Wednesday...

Water level rise above danger level in Sipu dam after heavy rains in Deesa on Wednesday...

Like us on Facebook

Copyright 2017, The Printers (Mysore) Private Ltd., 75, M.G Road, Post Box 5331, Bengaluru - 560001
Tel: +91 (80) 25880000 Fax No. +91 (80) 25880523
Powered by Yodasoft Technologies Pvt. Ltd.