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Why do we all use smartphones?

Facebook Home

Is social networking the real reason that people are so obsessed with their smartphones? Mark Bonnett attempts to answer this question for us.

Facebook Home

After months of rumours, Facebook finally unveiled its plans for the mobile industry, in the shape of Facebook Home, a homescreen replacement that will be made available for Android phones through Google Play, and which will put the Facebook experience front and centre on your phone. However, it wasn’t just the new software which was unveiled at the time; Facebook Home will also find a home in a phone specifically optimised to use it, the aptly named HTC First.

During the unveiling of Facebook Home, Mark Zuckerberg went to great pains to point out that Facebook is the most used app on mobile phones, with the clear implication being that Facebook was at least partly responsible for the success of smartphones.

But how true is that? Is social networking really the big reason why people use smartphones?

That’s an intriguing question, because there can be very little doubt that social networking has had a massive effect on the popularity of smartphones; the statistics do indeed show that Facebook is used by millions of people, on phones as diverse as the iPhone 5 or the Android-powered Sony Xperia Z. Some phones take that to an even deeper level, with HTC phone sin particular being adept at integrating Facebook contacts into your phone; the same can also be said about the Windows Phone platform, powering phones such as the HTC 8X.

However, Zuckerberg posited a world where Facebook was the main reason why people use their smartphones, and it’s this claim which we can examine in more detail. This claim is what led Zuckerberg to compare current smartphone interfaces to the very first Windows interface on PCs (whereby people click on icons, to start programs, or apps in the case of smartphones) after all, and it is why Facebook Home was designed to be the way it is.

However, while Facebook is undoubtedly a reason why people use their phones, many have come out to say that it’s not the main reason. It’s notable that the stats shown at the Facebook Home unveiling only included downloaded apps like Instagram; the stats didn’t include core functionalities of modern smartphones, features like the web browser, the music player or the camera, for example. This immediately throws some doubt on Zuckerberg’s assertion, as many suspect that if those features were included, their usage statistics would trounce even the Facebook app.

Thus it seems likely that, while social networking has played a crucial part in the success of smartphones, it’s not the whole story.

Of course, in this case, there is an easy way to find out a definitive answer, and it’s this: simply wait. If Zuckerberg is correct, and Facebook is what people really want to use on their phones, then logically, Facebook Home will become one of the most popular mobile apps ever, while simultaneously, the HTC First will sell by the million.

Considering that it’s going to be going up against the truly epic Samsung Galaxy S4, and considering that the Samsung Galaxy S3 4G should naturally drop in price once the S4 goes on sale, taking it into the kind of mid-range territory where the HTC First will sit, it’s definitely going to be a baptism of fire for the newcomer!

However, we’re definitely going to get an answer to the question in the title of this article, so it’s going to be hugely interesting to watch!

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