Facebook’s Android Homescreen Could Expose Apple’s Inflexibility

Game Of Phones Sigils

The mainstream has had little reason to care that Android gives developers much more customization freedom than iOS. But if Facebook’s fabled Android homescreen is a hit, the stubbornness of Apple’s closed mobile platform could be framed as a drawback after years of its cohesive design and ease being seen as assets.

Cheapness and handset/carrier choice are two of the biggest factors convincing people to pick up Android phones today. There’s its premier integration of Google’s app suite and the “rebel without an iPhone” attitude too. But Android’s flexibility for app developers has been more of a selling point for geeks and early adopters than for the average Joe.

Meanwhile, the straight forward “it just works” aspect of iOS that leans on its rigidity has made it a popular introduction to smartphones for hundreds of millions of people. There just hasn’t been a killer brand name app to grab the mainstream’s attention that depends on Android’s cooperative architecture and that iOS won’t support. No one has forced the issue of open vs closed on the common man.

But six years after the iPhone’s debut, the average mobile consumer has matured. They crave more personalization through homescreen widgets and custom launchers. They want to make their phone truly theirs. The mobile world may finally have reached the turning point where the benefits of Android’s customization outweigh the benefits of iOS’ simplicity. And it’s Facebook homescreen for Android that could crystallize this moment.

Last week, Facebook sent out invites to a big press event to “see our new home on Android”. My sources got us the scoop that Facebook plans to unveil a new homescreen for Android that pipes in its news feed content and notifications for instant access. We’re told this experience will be debuted on an HTC handset running a version of Android that’s been modified by Facebook. The homescreen replacement is also likely to make its way to other handsets, either in the form a launcher app that can run on standard Android builds, or through Facebook partnerships with other OEMs.

The kicker is that Facebook’s homescreen cannot run on iOS as it exists today.

Now, for any of this to actually alter the mobile landscape, Facebook “Home” as it may be called will have to be a real success. Not just “Oh that looks cool”, but “I need to have that on my phone”. A lot people will never say that, because they just don’t care that much about Facebook. Beyond that, it may be tough to add a lot of value on top of the full-featured Facebook For Android app that’s just a few taps away.

Still, it’s possible that Facebook’ heads up display, a sixth sense for your social life, could be good enough to shift the balance in the Game Of Phones. Even if not directly or immediately, the mere existence of Facebook Home could bring the open/closed debate into the sphere of public consciousness. In that sense, it could at least begin to generate momentum for Android’s “do as you please” ecosystem.

Apple is typically resistant to diverging from its roadmap to head off potential threats. As I’ve said, Apple doesn’t care what competitors do. But if it stays locked down, we might outgrow its hand-holding. For all Google’s talk off Android being open, it could take Facebook to make us realize its liberty we really want.

Read more about Facebook’s big new Android project:

Facebook To Reveal “Home On Android” Sources Say Is A Modified OS On HTC At 4/4 Event

Facebook’s “Home” On Android Could Give You A Sixth Sense For Your Social Life

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Eventbrite’s Julia And Kevin Hartz On Building A Business As A Couple, And More [Video]

julia hartz


We all know that co-founders with a longstanding personal bond have a better chance of building a successful company than co-founders who don’t share a strong friendship. But what about when that bond between two co-founders is a bit deeper, as a romantic relationship?

Eventbrite co-founders Julia and Kevin Hartz have shown that building a business with your significant other — in this case, a spouse — can lead to big success. The online event planning and ticketing platform, which is understood to be making its way to an IPO, just hit a major milestone this week, crossing $1.5 billion in gross sales and 100 million tickets sold.

I had the pleasure of interviewing the Hartzes in a fireside chat last month at the really fantastic Startup Grind 2013 conference headed up by tech entrepreneur Derek Andersen in Silicon Valley. In our 30-minute conversation, we talked about all things Eventbrite, from the early days as a budding startup to its current status as a sizable tech company, and you can watch it all in the video embedded above.

But, being that today is said to be the wedding of Wildfire Interactive co-founders Victoria Ransom and Alain Chuard, another uber successful co-founding couple (congratulations!), I especially wanted to highlight Julia and Kevin’s comments about running a business with a loved one.

Kevin and Julia said placing a priority on keeping their interpersonal relationship strong was a smart decision that should be used by other co-founding teams, whether they’re in a romantic relationship or not. Starting at around 4:50, Kevin said:

“There’s been famous husband and wife teams where it’s worked out remarkably, and famous husband and wife teams, as in the case of Cisco, where it’s kind of a disaster — but, you know, Cisco became a great company. Like anything, it’s a co-founder relationship, and in our case we had to be extra sensitive about it because there was this extra personal relationship important aspect about it.

So, we approached it somewhat cautiously. We had many different chances where we would say, ‘OK, we’re not going to ruin the marriage,’ so you know, one of us steps out, and we have this kind of a Plan B if things went poorly. I also think it’s a great exercise in really ensuring we’re compatible founders, and we were very conscientious of it. When you’re working with founders, your fellow founders, that relationship is fundamental whether it’s romantic or not.”

And Julia added:

“We were so cautious about the decisions we made and what kind of modes of operations we would have. We had this law that we would divide and conquer, and wouldn’t work on the same thing at the same time. It just so happened we had complimentary skills so that was an easy thing to do.

When I overlay that over any co-founder relationship, it’s vital actually to be talking about those kinds of things.”

There was much more where that came from, and you can see it all in the video above.

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