Awkward: Microsoft Rips Facebook, Says Windows Phone Is Real “People First” Device

Microsoft logoIt was pretty obvious that both Google and Apple had reasons not to like Facebook’s push into the phone space yesterday. But, while those companies haven’t voiced any concerns publicly, Microsoft — a Facebook investor and partner — let loose with a blog post saying it has a “people first” phone for those who want the “real thing.”

Microsoft’s “Real Thing” People Phone

From today’s post by Frank X. Shaw, corporate vice president of communication for Microsoft:

I tuned into the coverage of the Facebook Home event yesterday and actually had to check my calendar a few times.

Not to see if it was still April Fools Day, but to see if it was somehow still 2011.

Because the content of the presentation was remarkably similar to the launch event we did for Windows Phone two years ago.

When we sat down with a blank sheet of paper and designed Windows Phone, we put three words on the wall to guide the team: “Put People First”.

Shaw’s post goes on to explain how the Windows Phone “People” feature unifies address books and various social services, bringing them to the Windows Phone home page and the central People app, rather than requiring that users go into separate apps, concluding:

So, while we applaud Facebook for working to give some Android owners a taste of what a “people-centric” phone can be like, we’d humbly like to suggest that you get the real thing, and simply upgrade to a Windows Phone.

When you get your Windows Phone, simply log into your Facebook account (along with Twitter, Skype, LinkedIn and Gmail) and pin your best friends and family to your start screen, and we promise you’ll be feeling even more at “home”.

Facebook’s Phone Is Facebook-Centric, Not People-Centric

Shaw is certainly correct that for anyone who really is thinking that a phone should be people-oriented, Windows Phone is much more that than Facebook. That’s because Facebook’s phone is Facebook-centric, not people-centric.

For example, I never use Facebook messaging. Indeed, I even leave my notifications off. I prefer to deal with people through email. I also have many people I connect with not just on Facebook but also through Google+ or Twitter.

The Facebook phone doesn’t help me with this. It assumes that all the people in my life are on Facebook. They’re not. Heck, my 14-year-old doesn’t even use it any longer, having decamped like many of his friends over to Instagram.

People-First Hasn’t Been Selling Phones

The idea behind what Facebook unveiled yesterday is very intriguing, and that’s especially so for anyone who lives their lives on Facebook. But if there’s promise there, “People” in Windows Phone (or Windows 8) is even more promising, unifying Twitter and Facebook together, as well as LinkedIn and a few other services (Google+ isn’t one of them, though Gmail is).

Of course, People for Windows Phone has clearly not been so compelling that it has caused a massive adoption of that platform. That suggests that while Microsoft and Facebook may now want to spar over who has the real “people first” phone and what that means, so far, people seem pretty happy living with “app first” phones like Android (without Facebook Home) or iOS.

Microsoft Not Feeling The Facebook Love

That leads to the first awkward point in all this. One of those top apps is the aforementioned Facebook-owned Instagram, which just posted about how great Android use is, a year after it launched onto that platform. But, Instagram for Windows Phone… That platform still waits, something that made Windows Phone dead-in-the-water for my 14-year-old, in a recent test I ran on whether my kids would switch platforms.

Why awkward? Microsoft owns a small share in Facebook, around 1.6%, it seems. It was an early investor in the company, too. Facebook can’t get Instagram to build an app for Windows Phones for a buddy like that?

Apparently not. And awkward again, Microsoft is Facebook’s search partner. Search partner, that is, except when it comes to the mobile web. There, Facebook Home is doing nothing to change the search defaults to Facebook Graph search. Maybe that will come, and when it does, maybe that will also bring Bing to Facebook Home phones. But for now, it stays all Google on devices where Google is already the choice.

Related Topics: Channel: Mobile Marketing | Facebook: Home | Microsoft: Mobile | Microsoft: Windows Phone | Top News


About The Author: is Founding Editor of Marketing Land. He’s a widely cited authority on search marketing and internet marketing issues, who has covered the space since 1996. Danny also serves as Chief Content Officer for Third Door Media, which publishes Search Engine Land and produces the SMX: Search Marketing Expo conference series. He has a personal blog called Daggle (and keeps his disclosures page there). He can be found on Facebook, Google + and microblogs on Twitter as @dannysullivan.

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  • Aaron Alexander

    Microsoft does often challenge those they partner with at one point or another. I’d check the 2nd sentence in the last paragraph – “onto” that platform is missing the “o” Nice post!

  • Harry Hawk

    Its Facebook’s so millions may use it, but less then 60 millon users is a failure. More and more folks under 25 are using Facebook less and less (although many keep their accounts); Facebook will not bring them back.

    I see this more as a white elephant, it will be used by enough people that Facebook will have to support and maintain it but it will never get deep support within the Facebook community.

  • Bob Bigellow

    The article starts off by pointing out how Google might not be happy about Facebook’s announcement. However, Google should be *happy* (though cautious) about it. It will be more phones that will run Android-apps, which means developers will continue to develop for Android devices which keeps the ecosystem going. They should be cautious, though, because it could turn out to be a Trojan Horse later down the line. Realistically, though, I don’t see people committing to a piece of hardware and a contract the same way they commit to a social media network. After all, imagine having bought a hypothetical MySpace phone years ago. It’s bad enough that hardware and OS’es are obsolete a month after purchase, we don’t need these devices to also be tied to services that could just as easily become obsolete one day. This is a Hail Mary pass for Facebook in hopes to maintaining their relevancy for the distant future.

  • Danny Sullivan

    I ran short of time to expand it more. But exactly, Google should be happy because supposedly this is promoting Android. But I doubt they are, because it’s taking the customization of Android to an extreme to put Google further in the background. Google may say on the surface that it likes how this shows how open Android is, but underneath, I doubt it does.

  • Danny Sullivan

    Thanks, got it!

  • treepodia

    Microsoft is doing what it can. They probably have started worrying quite a bit because of Facebook Home.

  • Md.Sultan Mahmud

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