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Will you turn your phone over to Facebook?

It will be available for download for five Android phones, including Samsung’s flagship Galaxy phones, starting April 12 and HTC, in conjunction with AT & T will be the first phone manufacturer to build Facebook Home right into a new phone.

While some early reaction among attendees covering the launch event in California was breathless anticipation, others were not as impressed by the long-awaited announcement.

“I am looking at shutting facebook out, not adding into my life more,” wrote Alan Quatermain in a tweet.

“A Facebook phone? That’s exactly what I need from my service provider — a more direct way to look at uploaded pics of people’s cats,” tweeted Daily Times sportswriter Grant Ramey.

While Zuckerberg heralded Facebook Home as a way to put people first on your phone, instead of apps, it is clear that giving Facebook first billing on smartphones is a strategy aimed trying to put the social network in the lead in the mobile trend.

Facebook is all about selling advertising and if it can integrate more fully into people’s lives, that can only translate into more ad dollars.

Expect to see Facebook’s ads on your smartphone home screen news feed just as you see them through Facebook’s mobile app and on your computer now. Although Zuckerberg told reporters there are no ads in this yet, he added, “I’m sure at some point there will be.”

Will users think it’s a fair trade off? If they do, Facebook Home could be very lucrative for the social networking giant.

“Over 700 million smartphones were shipped in 2012. Smartphones are now the world’s key computing and communicating device. Facebook wants a big piece of this because more users mean more of their time connected, which translates into billions of advertising and new revenue streams,” Queen’s University School of Business professor John-Kurt Pliniussen said in a written reaction to today’s announcement.. “Currently Facebook is the top app for mobile time spent in North America with approximately 25 percent . Next is Apple iTunes with 9 percent. In other words, one quarter of all time net on mobile phones goes to Facebook. So if they can control the phone and the app markets … BOOM!”

Despite earlier speculation that today’s announcement might be centred around a single Facebook phone, Zuckerberg has his sights set on a much larger market.

“On average we spend about 20 per cent of our time on phones on Facebook,” Zuckerberg said in his presentation. “No other category or activity even comes close, we spend our lives sharing and connecting.”

Zuckerberg said his company doesn’t want to limit Facebook Home to a single phone – “a great phone might sell 10 or 20 million units at best,” he said.

Instead, by incorporating it into Android phones, Facebook is hoping to capture a much larger share of its billion-plus users.

Turning on the phone to demonstrate the new Facebook Home, the home screen opened to what Facebook is calling “cover feed,” and what Zuckerberg described as a “visually rich news feed.”

The new Facebook Home also has chat heads – messaging heads that pop up on your screen, whether you’re looking at photos, playing a game or using some other app. Those are your friends and contacts weighing in with messages, which you can choose to zero in on or dismiss.

“When you’re done throw them away at the bottom,” said Zuckerberg demonstrating how with a single swipe the Chat Heads disappear from the screen.

“We think Chat Heads are this great personal way to do messaging.”

Facebook Home won’t be available yet for tablets, although Zuckerberg promised that is in the works and expected in the coming months.

Also no word on when Facebook Home will be available for Canadians, although if it is to be available as a download through the Google Play store, you might expect it should be available for download in Canada as well.

Are you ready to turn your smartphone into a Facebook phone?

Digital Life

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