Facebook has always had a deep seated ambition to be the center of the internet universe, the place where practically everybody socializes, chats, emails, searches and shops. On Thursday morning they announced Facebook Home, which is their plan to be the center of the mobile experience as well. Home is not a phone, operating system or app. It is a user experience layer that manages a standard version of Google's Android OS. Marketing Land published a good description of Home's current features, which include a dynamic lock/home screen displaying News Feed highlights, a notification system and 'chat heads', which delivers text and Facebook messages on top of any app that the user happens to be using.
Google has been congratulatory so far but it is easy to see why they aren't happy about Facebook trying to become the face of Android to so many users. The cover feed will be the first thing that users see, and Wired issued the common prediction that Facebook will soon deliver ads right into the user's pockets. Facebook is clearly exploiting Google's open source philosophy and several blogs were predicting that Facebook would develop its own operating system in case they wear out their welcome.
The advertising potential correlates to the potential for privacy abuse, since Facebook could technically know everything that happens on the phone, including where it seems to live. Another downside is that Home might not gain wide acceptance, since only real Facebook addicts might be interested in turning their phone over to Facebook. Especially among the young, Facebook may have reached a tipping point where it just isn't cool to have it in your pocket.