Facebook Home hits 500K downloads

Good start, says analyst, but he calls the number 'disappointing' considering Facebook's user base

In the 10 days that Facebook Home has been available, it has had more than 500,000 downloads.

While that number may not be as high as it had been expected to be, it's a strong start for the Android launcher, according to Ezra Gottheil, an analyst with Technology Business Research.

"Most companies would be thrilled to have a half million downloads in 10 days," said Gottheil. "It may be disappointing, but it's still good news. Even if only half stick with it, that's a lot more screen time than before for Facebook. Every user is a net win."

Facebook did not respond to a request for comment.

Facebook Home, which became available for download on April 12, enables users to experience their smartphone through a Facebook-focused lens.

It doesn't replace the Android operating system. Instead, it sits on top of it and includes a family of Facebook-related apps, while also working with the apps a user already has on his phone.

The launcher was first made available for Android smartphones, with a tablet version set to come later. And while some reports have said Facebook is in talks with Apple to create a version of Home for iOS, analysts have said it'll never happen.

Gottheil pointed out Monday that though Facebook has more than 1 billion users, the number who use Android phones is much smaller. And the number of users who have an Android phone that works with Home at this point is smaller still.

The company reported that at the end of 2012, it had 680 million monthly active mobile users.

Comparing the 500,000 downloads to the number of Facebook's mobile users instead of its overall number of users, makes the downloads look much greater, Gottheil noted.

"Some people are Facebook fanatics, and Facebook Home makes sense for them," he added. "A lot of others just want to try it. Remember that downloading isn't using."

Gottheil said it also may not help that Home has a 2.2-star user rating out of a possible five stars on Google Play.

"What isn't good news is a two-star review, which probably goes a long way toward explaining the downloads," he added. "But remember that most companies would be thrilled to have a half-million downloads in 10 days."

Sharon Gaudin covers the Internet and Web 2.0, emerging technologies, and desktop and laptop chips for Computerworld. Follow Sharon on Twitter at @sgaudin, on Google+ or subscribe to Sharon's RSS feed. Her email address is sgaudin@computerworld.com.

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