One of Google’s top executives says the company is okay — for now — with Facebook Home’s presence on Android devices, but it may change its mind in the future.
Home essentially replaces the primary Android experience by converting the home and lock screens into a Facebook-based content experience through what Facebook calls “Cover Feed.” As soon as Facebook announced Home, many wondered if Google would allow such a dramatic change in the Android OS interface.
Pichai told Levy that Google welcomes innovations on Android and doesn’t currently plan any changes.
We want to be a very, very open platform, but we want a way by which end users are getting a good experience overall. We have to figure out a way to rationalize things, and do it so that it makes sense for users and developers. There’s always a balance there. It’s no different from the kind of decisions that Facebook has to make about its own platform. But right now, we don’t plan to make any changes — we are excited they’ve done good work.
But on a follow-up question, Pichai seemed a bit less certain that Home would always be able to function the way it does now.
Let me clarify. Users get to decide what apps and what choices they want. Some users really want this. We don’t want to get in the way of that. [But] in the end, we have to provide a consistent experience. As part of that, with every release of Android, we do go through changes. So we may make changes over time. But if this is what users want, I think Facebook will be able to do it. We want it to be possible for users to get what they want.
Facebook recently revealed that the Home app has passed a million downloads since its launch on April 4. Some have said that’s a surprisingly low number, but Home isn’t available yet on a wide number of Android phones.
Still, there are reports today that AT&T has decided to stop selling the HTC First — the first smartphone shipped with Facebook Home pre-installed — due to poor sales. BGR reports that AT&T sold fewer than 15,000 devices in the first month.
If the public decides that it doesn’t want Home, they could end up making the decision for Google.