Facebook Inc. (NASDAQ:FB) had its big reveal Thursday – and while it’s not a Facebook phone as was rumored – of a new “Home” platform, a skin of sorts that lays on top of an Android operating system by Google Inc. (NASDAQ:GOOG). Home is made possible by the open-source of Android, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg admitted. But does that openness affect the ability of Home to be available all across the Android universe?
In the short-term, Facebook Inc. (NASDAQ:FB) announced that its new Home “skin” will be on six Android-powered handsets now and in the coming weeks – three Samsung models and three HTC models – which includes the brand-new HTC First, which is supposedly “optimized” for Home. The challenge, however, for Facebook is getting Home a home on many Android devices.
You see, there are about 45 percent of all Android devices currently in the marketplace run versions 2.3 Gingerbread or earlier OSs on them, while a little more than half of the phones run version 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich or later. And Zuckerberg admitted that Facebook Inc. (NASDAQ:FB) is not able to make Home compatible with any Android system running Gingerbread or older – Gingerbread is reportedly still the OS on about two of every five devices in the current install base. And as far as tablets, Zuckerberg said having the Home launcher on Android tablets may come some time after launch, though no timetable was set.
At this point, because Android by Google Inc. (NASDAQ:GOOG) is such an open-source platform compared to the iOS by Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL), there are no plans by Facebook Inc. (NASDAQ:FB) to get Home in another segment of the smartphone marketplace with Apple smartphones. And there is no indication right now whether Home will wind up on any phone run by Windows by Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT). So while this can seem like a big launch – and in some ways this might be a bigger market share than a ntive Facebook phone would generate – this looks to be on a smaller scale on paper than it is talked about.
DISCLOSURE: i own no positions in any stock mentioned.