Facebook unveiled a new application for Android-driven smartphones and tablets Thursday, a move that comes as a fast-growing number of its 1.06 billion users access the social networking site on their mobile devices.
CEO Mark Zuckerberg took the stage a little after 1 p.m. ET in Menlo Park, Calif., to unveil what the company is calling Facebook Home.
It's essentially an all-encompassing app for any Android device. Facebook Home becomes the homescreen for the phone, a filter through which all other devices and applications can be used.
Zuckerberg began the presentation by noting that currently, smartphone users spend 20 per cent of the time they're using their devices on Facebook. And the company wants to increase that by transforming itself into a central hub through which all other applications can be used.
Now that Apple, Microsoft and Google into the mobile device business, the team here in NPR's corporate R&D division is discussing what our own branded phone experience might offer. Features we're considering include on-demand ringtones built on sound clips from today's headlines and on everyone's voicemail.
Unfortunately we are not the only company that sees gaping holes in the market for loyal customers to telegraph their brand affinities with expensive, pocket-sized devices packed with features that make it easier to do everything but make a phone call and actually hear the person you're talking to.
So what are our competitors up to? Here's what our corporate espionage staff has uncovered so far.
Yahoo Phone: The fallen digital king, struggling to reestablish its reign, offers a new mobile service that only works .
Netflix Phone: The steaming service gives you a personalized library of TV shows and movies you're actually .
LinkedIn Phone: The Facebook for makes it easier for former coworkers to find you and ask you for job leads and "Endorsements" (tm).
: Provides "one-click" calling and suggests an uncanny list of other people you've been meaning to call (your mother will love you for it!).
Pandora Phone: The music service will personalize calls with random ringtones by your feelings about the callers based on words you've used about them in your email.
Given the increasing competition, we hear the major phone carriers are also considering how to enter the phone market. However, the industry's previous experience offering devices designed to provide personal playlists of hold music while automatically draining your bank account didn't catch on with customers as the companies hoped.
The mobile advertisement market is growing quickly. That's thanks in large part to Facebook and Twitter, which also entered the space in 2012. Research firm eMarketer expects U.S. mobile ad spending to grow 77 per cent this year to $7.29 billion, from $4.11 billion last year.