Android just knocked Facebook’s plan to cut out the middleman on its phone app for a loop. It announced that all applications must be updated through the Google Play store as one of the ways to proof Android against its malware problem.
That doesn’t jibe with what Facebook wants. Recently, it announced the launch of Facebook Home, which would have an always-open Facebook app on the Android homepage — and proposed to set up a seamless update process as well, done automatically through Facebook rather than requiring a separate step through the Google Play store.
As reports have pointed out, the move was not a dig at Facebook — at least on the surface. Google has long had a malware problem on its Android product. Smartphone malware attacks grew by 163% in 2012; 95% of those attacks were Android-directed. But this fracas could be a sign of things to come.
Other than being the licensor of Android’s software, Google is a competitor to Facebook in many ways. Its Google+ competes with Facebook’s social networking and sharing capabilities. And since both companies make money from consumer data and targeted advertising, they are bound to compete for the same advertisers.
But more importantly, both companies are in the midst of a push to put themselves in the forefront of users’ minds and mobile devices. Google Now is working on becoming a virtual personal assistant that anticipates every need of the user — providing a commute map or give an alert about weather changes before users start off their daily commute. Naturally, Google Now would want to be on Android’s homepage — not Facebook.
There doesn’t seem to be much of a conflict now, as Facebook Home ranked number 50 in Google Play and Google Now is not released in full capacity yet. Furthermore, Google and Facebook could be aligned together to beat a mutual competitor: Apple. But once Google Now is ready for Android homepage — and the mobile operating software receives enough publicity for its openness in allowing apps like Facebook take over — Google could ask for its home screen back.