Facebook. HTC First. A new home on Android. A home screen app or launcher. That is collectively what the tech media industry knows, or believes, about Facebook’s announcement on Thursday gathered from leaks and whispers. Of course, as all those tech sites tell it, it sounds like Zuckerberg is about to unveil the most uninteresting and half-assed hardware/software ever imagined.
Let’s talk about that HTC First, uh, first., which is rumored to serve as Facebook’s long-anticipated branded device. The leaked image that’s been bandied around the internet looks like the most generic iPhone rip-off you can possibly imagine, so the innovation probably isn’t in the hardware, it’ll have to be in some deeply rooted software. My theory is that it’s supposed to be some budget piece of kit for carriers to give away for free. Facebook partnered with HTC to release the Chacha, which was also deemed ‘the Facebook phone’ and featured a dedicated “status”. The Chacha sold at pretty cheap, but failed to sell at all, and carrier AT&T tossed it out to sea. Is there really any reason for a branded device? Not really, but people will keep wanting it just to fulfill the rumor.
So now we have the rumored Android home screen/launcher/forked version of Android. The further you get in that slash-enate, the more interesting it seems. Anything short of a fork is just a glorified home screen widget and that’s hardly worthy anyone’s time, just like Graph Search has yet to find its usefulness despite being a “key pillar” of Facebook’s strategy. Perhaps it’s a Flipboard-style app like HTC’s new Sense, but every review I’ve seen for the HTC One isn’t interested in it as a primary feature. As a fork, much like Amazon’s own for their Kindle tablets, it allows them to grab tons and tons of data from their service and throw it at you in a big way. Also: Facebook is not short of info to throw at you. Ever.
At any rate, they better have something crazy, like car integration or sparkly pinwheels, or I’m not interested.