What Facebook Home means for banks, and service providers

The world of social media & networks just took a huge leap forward, as Facebook, the largest social network in the world unveiled Facebook Home. Labeled the “next version of Facebook” it brings a people-centric experience to phones. For now its is limited to a few select Android phones. However, iOS users hoping to see Facebook Home on the next iPhone, there may be a long wait.

Based on societies overwhelming fixation on Facebook and backed by a principle to build experiences around people first and not apps, Facebook has created Home, an overlay comprised of a several apps that deliver a deeper Facebook experience unachievable through a standalone app. Home is a launcher, one that lets you spring Facebook features into action while keeping your other apps in the picture, in the background.

One of the things that has made Android as popular as it is today is the extreme customizability. And what better demonstrates this capability than the huge array of launchers and home screen replacements that are available for the platform. Launcher is the name given to the part of the Android user interface that lets users customize the home screen, launch mobile apps, make phone calls, and perform other tasks on Android devices. Launcher is built into Android. Some of the most popular launchers today are Nova, Go Launcher EX, APEX, plus you can find many more in the Google's Play Store.

Today people use Facebook more than any other application on their phones. During his keynote, Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of the Facebook, showed that 25 percent of people's phone time is spent on Facebook. Home doesn't just bring you to Facebook, it turns your device into a Facebook-content blasting machine.

The two biggest components of Home are Cover Feed and Chat Heads. Cover Feed takes over a phone's lock and home screens with a steady stream of Facebook updates coming from your friends. Chat Heads is a way to keep your FB buddies with you no matter what you're doing on your device.

We're not building a phone. We're not building an operating system, but we're building something that's a whole lot deeper than just an ordinary app - Zuckerberg.

To date, Android Launchers didn't make it to the mainstream, instead kept mainly for those desiring a more 'custom' experience. But Facebook's move could render the native launchers by manufacturers obsolete. Putting Facebook in the drivers seat of the content you engage, consume and share on your mobile device.

This move makes mobile a very interesting topic for banks and other service providers, as Facebook's dominance of the phone is certain to grow. Putting Facebook's content and network at the forefront of a device experience means everything else fades further into the background. Suddenly the most engaging point of a mobile device is not your Mobile Banking Apps, it's the experience Facebook's launcher provides, increasing the relevance of Facebook in engaging consumers.

Banks in particular are still playing catch-up with the App ecosystem. Many have adopted iOS, but have struggling to catch-up with the ever accelerating Android ecosystem. Are we likely to see any response from the banks? It's unlikely, as to date banks don't play nicely with Facebook. Bank also have historically shied away from Android's 'customizability', perceiving it at risky and a security threat.

This however is not the first time we've seen a content and experience lead leap forward, Windows 8 was built on this very principle. Bringing content, not applications and settings to the forefront of the Windows experience.

A version of Home for iOS is seen as less likely, as it would require a “partnership” with Apple, which maintains strict control over its “closed” ecosystem; a pairing that would implicitly see Facebook ceding some control to Apple. A first for Apple.

When a entity like Facebook throw down the gauntlet, we all have to pay attention. As this move could revolutionise the way we perceive our most personal devices, our mobile phones. And it truly embraces my ideology of 'mobile at the centre of your daily life'