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Why Google Should Worry About the Facebook Phone

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Today Facebook announced "Home" a clever way to turn Android devices into what Facebook is calling "a great, living, social phone." I saw the announcement as "if you are on Facebook, you are not on Google, and we did not have to create a phone."

According to comScore's January 2013 U.S. Smartphone market share report, 129.4 million people in the U.S. own smartphones, with 52.3 percent running Android's operating system, 37.8 percent running Apple's operating system, 5.9 percent with BlackBerry and 3.1 percent with Microsoft.

The first Android-powered phone was sold in late 2008. The operating system was developed by Android Inc., a company founded in 2003 and bought by Google in 2005. Since developers can use the Android source code, Amazon.com was able to distribute their Kindle device with their version of Android linking to the Amazon app store instead of Google's app store (Google Play). Facebook did something similar. On April 12, owners of HTC One X, HTC One X+, Samsung GALAXY S III and Samsung GALAXY Note II devices will be able to visit Google Play and download Facebook Home. This new "service" will take over the home screen of your Android device as well as your lock screen. In other words, the first thing you see will be Facebook with updates from your friends instead of having to open the Facebook app.

For a tighter integration, Facebook also announced "chat heads" that will pop-up regardless of what you are doing on your phone (listening to music, reading news on a browser, checking your email). These chat heads will also bring you non-Facebook text messages.

In case you want to use non-Facebook apps, you can swipe up to see the app launcher. This is where you will see other services like Twitter or Google+.

But will you need to go to other services if Facebook is pushing the content to your home screen and shows you pop-up messages all of the time?

I think personalization and location will play a key role in Facebook Home adoption. If the service can deliver targeted messages at the right time -- you arrive to a shopping center and Facebook Home tells you that a few friends are also in the shopping center, plus it delivers discounts from stores you like -- users will embrace Home. But the second they send spam, or too many invitations from friends to play a game you are not interested in, users will look for a way to remove Home.

As Google continues to improve their Knowledge Graph and personalize results from your connections on Google+; and with their upcoming wearable devices like Google Glass, Facebook must have seen an immediate threat to their service. By using Google's own Android, Facebook has been able to give users a reason to stay on Facebook. With their improved Facebook Graph Search, you can find recommendations from your Facebook friends and additional results by Microsoft's Bing. No reason to jump over to Google.

Your Turn:
Are you comfortable letting Facebook take over your phone and have chat heads deliver your messages? If your friends are on Facebook, would you go back to your Google+ "circle" of friends? Add your comment below.

Julio Fernandez is Vice President of Search Marketing & Analytics for SocialShelfspace.com, a marketing agency that combines search engine optimization with influencer outreach to deliver measurable effects. His previous blog entries covered Google's Knowledge Graph as well as Facebook graph Search and privacy issues.

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