Will Apple Loosen its Grip on iOS and Allow Facebook Home?

It’s too early to tell if Facebook Home is going to be a success or not; it’s only available on a few devices, and it’s only been out for a few days. However, Facebook Home is really designed as an aggressive product, aimed at securing hearts and minds in the mobile market (which should be a fascinating development to watch).

Of course, it’s only available on Android devices so far. According to Bloomberg, though, Facebook is in talks with Apple and Microsoft to implement Home (or a version of Home) on iOS and Windows Phone devices.

Facebook Home
Facebook Home

“It may or may not be Home. We could also just bring some of the design values to the iOS app. That might be how it ends up. Or we could build just the lock screen. Maybe then it’s not called Home, it’s called something else,” said Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg to Bloomberg.

Apple has famously maintained a walled garden, vertical integration approach to mobile development by rigorously screening apps, blocking technologies and services it doesn’t want in its iOS ecosystem, and generally calling the shots. When the iPhone first came out, Apple even had the major carriers in the palm of its hand, deciding who got to sell its service on the iPhone, and when, and how much it would cost.


The days of Apple’s dominance, at least in terms of its zeitgeist, are gone. It’s interesting that Apple is entertaining the idea of Home at all--something the Jobs-era Apple would probably never have done. Zuck is at least paying lip service to compromising Home to suit Apple, but we’d wager that at the end of the day, if Home makes it to iOS, it’s not going to be a neutered version of the product.

Facebook Home wouldn’t make any sense on iOS. Why would Facebook go to all the trouble of carefully crafting Home’s every nuance only to blow it up and try to cram it onto iOS? The opposite is also true; every detail of iOS was obsessively crafted, so it would be nonsensical to allow Home to come in and completely disrupt it. (The same could be said for Home on Windows Phone, although a reworking of the Windows Phone operating system to potentially pull in more users wouldn’t be nearly as dramatic as seeing iOS get the same treatment.)

Windows Phone

The reason Home works on Android is that Android is an open OS, and every handset maker develops its own variations on it. Facebook Home is a natural progression in that vein, offering a unique UI while also embedding Facebook deeper into the operating system. Android simply has different DNA than iOS or Windows Phone.

For Home to work on iOS or Windows Phone, Apple and Microsoft would have to make serious compromises, and it would be very telling if indeed they decide to make them--Apple especially. In the same moment that Facebook is showing new strength and making a bid for a more powerful presence on mobile devices, Apple could be evincing as much weakness as we’ve seen in years.