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Why does Facebook Home have a restricted guest list?

Ian Paul | April 9, 2013
When Facebook Home hits Google Play on Friday, you'll need either an HTC One X, an HTC One X+, a Samsung Galaxy S III, or a Samsung Galaxy Note II to download it. That's the extent of the list.

The First features a 4.3-inch display with a resolution of 1280-by-720 pixels at 341 pixels per inch, a dual-core 1.4GHz Snapdragon processor, 16GB of onboard storage, 1GB of RAM, a 5-megapixel rear-facing camera, a 1.6MP front-facing camera, 802.11a/g/b/n Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.0, NFC, LTE, and the Android 4.1 Jelly Bean operating system. The HTC First has some nice specs, but they aren't that different from the Nexus 4.

"I think Facebook feels it can benefit from establishing a deeper and longer-term relationship with device vendors," Gartner analyst Brian Blau said via e-mail. "This is a new effort from Facebook and, if the past is any indication, this new product will take time to develop into something of real value for users." The alternative is for Facebook to try and rush Home out the door, hoping all the functionality works without a hitch across a wide range of devices.

Golvin agrees. "If a customer downloads Home and has a poor experience, has to go through whatever pain is associated with disabling and discarding the app, the probability that he/she will try again is very low," Golvin said. "So by targeting a manageable list of devices, [Facebook] can manage uptake and ensure good experiences."

Facebook Home may be able to run on all kinds of hardware, but the company apparently wants to roll its new app out slowly after careful device testing. Considering how fully Facebook Home takes over a user's device, preventing unintended device crashes and quirky functionality is probably a good idea. The great thing about Android, however, is that walled gardens don't last long.

It's a good bet that starting Friday, the official APK files for Facebook Home will be available for download via developer forums and several Android-focused blogs. So as long as Facebook doesn't hit the kill switch again, daring Android users willing to take a risk should be able to give Home another shot.


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