The Facebook Home Android launch has triggered a pretty strong reaction from Microsoft, in an article that executive Frank X. Shaw posted on the official company blog.
Shaw says that Facebook’s event has made him check his calendar a few times to make sure he wasn’t still in 2011, hinting at the similarities between Microsoft’s Windows Phone 7.5 presentation and what Mark Zuckerberg and his employees showed off on Thursday. You can watch Microsoft’s WP presentation below, so you can decide for yourself.
Microsoft’s slogan, “Put People First”, and what Mark Zuckerberg said about “phones designed around people first” are indeed similar. Facebook’s idea of building a smartphone around people, not apps isn’t that original either. But the attack on Android that followed seemed a little out of place.
Shaw’s post says that Microsoft understands why Facebook would bring similar features to a platform that doesn’t have them, but that Android is complicated enough without putting another skin on a custom version of it (the OS has been tweaked to ensure the best experience). He finishes by suggesting users to try the “real thing” by “upgrading” to Windows Phone.
We understand why Facebook would want to find a way to bring similar functionality to a platform that is sadly lacking it. But as Android owners know, that platform is complicated enough without adding another skin built around another metaphor, on top of what is already a custom variant of the OS.
Frank X. Shaw, Microsoft
While it remains to be seen whether users will “upgrade” or not, Shaw’s attack sounds suggests that Microsoft is unhappy about having one of its ideas (or part of it) appropriated.
With that said, it’s hard to say whether Microsoft would have been willing to change the experience of Windows Phone for Facebook (even if the Windows Phone 8 lock screen is customizable and already allows showing Facebook pictures without unlocking it).
In an interview for Wired, Mark Zuckerberg suggests that Android was chosen because, despite Facebook’s relationship with Google, which isn’t a great one, the two companies share an open philosophy. The fact that Android is open allows Facebook to build great experiences. He also said that it could increase Android smartphone sales (which is probably the reason why Google has accepted it in the Google Play Store, considering the company’s response to the Facebook announcement).
The Facebook boss also added that, while Facebook has a “pretty good” partnership with Apple, Tim Cook’s company “want to own the whole experience to themselves”, and that he couldn’t say whether the same experience would ever be available on the iPhone. However, Zuckerberg didn’t hide his love for the iPhone and the fact that he would like that to happen.
While Facebook and Microsoft might patch things up in the end, it’s pretty safe to assume that BlackBerry, whose app market has grown a lot (with a significant number of apps ported from Android) would be interested to get in on Home (or a similar partnership with Facebook), should that be possible.
Do you think Facebook Home will make its way to other platforms?