Apr 22nd, 2013

When Facebook launched its home replacement application, simply dubbed Facebook Home, it was met with tons of mixed reactions. Some commended the application’s functionality for providing a smooth and beautiful way to keep tabs on Facebook life, while others simply couldn’t deal with giving up key Android functionality to be bugged with status updates and Facebook pictures 24/7. Thankfully, it isn’t a requirement to use Facebook Home in order to use Facebook on Android, so if users didn’t want it they didn’t have to put up with it.

Well, we now have some hard numbers to see just how many people decided to give the app a chance. The application has been downloaded at least 500,000 times since it launched according to the Google Play Store. The milestone is said to have been reached in five days, but for the time being we can only confirm it just reached that number yesterday. Regardless, 500,000 doesn’t seem like a huge number in the Facebook world, a world that consists of just over a billion inhabitants.

Compare that to Instagram for Android, which hit 1 million downloads in its first day and 5 million downloads in just under a week, and you can see why this is considered under-performing for the social network. Factor in the possibility that many of those 500,000 downloads might no longer be active users (I know I uninstalled it shortly after giving it a shot) and it’s clear to see why the number is seen as a rocky start for Zuckerberg and Friends.

So why is it failing to become the mega hit that Facebook wants? There are a number of significant factors at play here. The biggest thing hurting Facebook’s chances might be the limited device availability. The list of compatible devices is small enough to fit on the palm of my hand, and some of those devices — such as the HTC One and the HTC First — are fairly new with limited install bases. (Be sure to read the HTC One review and HTC First review.)

It also doesn’t help that the app was only available in the United States until a few days after launch. If Facebook were to launch this thing on a wider scale ala the official Facebook app things might have turned out a lot differently. Facebook Home can be installed on almost any device through hacked APKs, of course, but most users aren’t hip to that scene.

Awareness shouldn’t be an issue as Facebook has drummed up a lot of noise regarding Facebook Home both leading up to its unveiling and after launch. The social network has even gone as far as launching a major television advertising campaign for the new experience, meaning a whole lot of folks who don’t read tech blogs should know about it.

It’s tough to say whether or not Facebook Home’s slow adoption rate can be seen as a failure when considering the aforementioned factors, but we imagine Facebook would like to, at the very least, have hit one million downloads by now. Facebook Home isn’t a make-or-break deal for the company right now, but there’s no doubt it eventually wants this to become the Facebook experience for mobile devices.

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