After Facebook introduced “Home,” its new launcher for Android phones that will help you engage with your friends quickly without having to open the actual app, I asked Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg if such a product could ever find its way to iOS.
Clearly, the reason for “starting with Android,” as Zuckerberg put it at the beginning of the Home event, is because Google’s mobile operating system is completely open, can be modified or forked by anyone and allows more customizations than any other mobile OS.
When it comes to iOS, Zuckerberg was quick to remind us that it already has a partnership with Apple, since Facebook is as deeply integrated into the operating system as a company can get. Currently, you can tweet of update your Facebook status from the notification screen on your iDevice. A complete customization like this would be a tough sell for Apple, and it’s not in their best interests to allow a social service to have that much control over their user’s experience.
Having said that, there will come a point when iPhone users will want the level of customization that Android users enjoy, and Facebook Home is probably the first time where we’ll start seeing some longtime iDevice users defect. Probably the younger users. Would that fact alone make Apple budge? Not for a while, but if there ever are plans for a “lower-end” iPhone, that might be the time to allow for more flexibility in its operating system. Managing two separate versions of iOS might sound crazy, but these are users who will eventually grow up and buy the full-price models of whatever Apple is offering at the time.