Hard to call this a leak, but Facebook is preparing you to download yet another mobile app – Phone. Here’s a startup idea – put it all back into a package. I know. Who doesn’t enjoy opening one app to text someone, another to see the newsfeed, yet another for a chatroom and now one to place calls over Wi-Fi and mobile data?
Facebook has undoubtedly cracked the mobile market. The company’s dominance is clear, and now it’s eyeing a piece of the phone market. Team up with T-Mobile. That’s one company that relishes in pissing off the bigger carriers.
The app, known as Phone, accidentally on purpose leaked over the weekend to Android users. The Android Police was quick to grab screens of the invitation to ‘Try Phone [FB-ONLY]. The invitation came complete with a phone icon next to it in case the name didn’t give it away.
As the image grab suggests, the app could show ‘you info about who’s calling and automatically [block] calls from commonly blocked numbers.’ The thinking right now is the app will run on Facebook servers over a cell network. Basically, imagine Messenger but the ability to make a call.
Obviously, the would present problems in areas with no mobile data connectivity, but it opens up features such as Wi-Fi calls. And, if you ever used something similar to Facetime audio, you know the call clarity can be crystal clear over traditional cellular coverage.
With the leak came the prompt to install the app. When users did, it immediately led to dead space. The Phone app is probably locked away on development servers at Facebook.
Will we see it? Considering the lucrative nature of the vertical, I’d place money on yes. Timing will be a chief question, as will a Wall Street question.
This is the biggest question investors will ask. How to monetize a service like this? The Whatsapp $1 per year is not going to cut it. Seeing as it’s voice, you can’t exactly see the ads. I know, Magic Leap. You beg to differ. But, until we see something from that space, the there’s really only two paths.
Subscription. It’s hard to see Facebook going the monthly fee route for an app, but it’s path of least resistance.
Data mining. Recording your calls and mining for advertiser-friendly keywords. Pitchforks should sell quite well if Facebook announces that. Then again, we let the Edward Snowden revelations blow over with little to no recourse. Facebook already tracks you, so if you want the Phone app, it comes with strings.
What do you think? Is there room for another Facebook app on your phone? Would you be ok for the calls to be data mined?