In its relatively short life, Facebook has tried a lot of different products.
Some have worked out, many have not.
After a huge launch for “Facebook Home,” an Android launcher that takes over your phone, we decided to look back at some of Facebook’s failed products.
Facebook Home is a clever attempt by Facebook to subvert Google’s world-leading smartphone platform. Facebook’s announcement made Facebook Home look like a promising alternative to the stock Android design for people that really love Facebook.
Before we get too swept away with Facebook Home, there’s reason for caution. Facebook has made a lot of big announcements, but they often fizzle out later on.
There's a mobile advertising dream that goes like this: You walk down the street, you pass a Starbucks, Starbucks can offer you 10 per cent off a coffee to get you in the door. It's been talked about forever, but it hasn't happened. It probably never will. But, Facebook took a crack at it with 'Deals.' You were supposed to open your phone and get offers. It didn't really catch on.
In April of 2010, Mark Zuckerberg announced a partnership with Microsoft on Docs.com. The idea was that Facebook users would be able to share their Microsoft documents to collaborate. We don't recall hearing much about this one after the launch.
Facebook tried to announce your e-commerce behaviour to your friends with Beacon. Users weren't all the keen on it, so it was quickly shut down. The essence of the idea was used in later Facebook ad products. Still, Beacon was one of the first, biggest high profile product launches and shut downs by Facebook.
When Foursquare was getting a lot of hype, Facebook decided to do its own check-in feature. No one used it, so Facebook rebuilt Places to be a standard part of its mobile app. Some people use the location feature, so it's not a total loss. And the check-in never really took off for Foursquare, so this wasn't a total flop.
Facebook launched 'Gifts' in the fall. It sounds like a good idea. Facebook has a lot of data on birthdays and big events. The idea is to use that as a prompt to sell stuff. For instance, 'It's Jim's birthday, buy him a present through Facebook's store.' It's still early, so this could be big, but we're sceptical.
This year Facebook announced Graph Search, which could be an innovating way to do search. We're sceptical, though. Facebook has to prove it's serious about search.
Facebook Home looks like a brilliant move from Facebook. The question is whether or not people will really use it. It has a mixed track record with big product launches, so we wouldn't be surprised if few people end up using it.