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Education and the Facebook Phone
May 29, 2012 - 9:21pm

I'm not too proud to beg Facebook to consider including educators at the table during the design of the Facebook phone.  

The NYTimes reported this weekend that Facebook is ramping up efforts to build its own phone, running some form of a Facebook operating system, to compete with Google (Android), and Apple (iOS). Controlling the platform, and therefore the mobile ecosystem, makes good sense for Facebook - although pulling off a combined software/hardware product is extremely difficult.   

The smart money is on Amazon to ship its own Kindle branded phone before 2014 (and subsidize the hardware with Amazon Prime subscriptions, video and e-book sales), but a Facebook phone with the social operating system baked into the product makes sense.

Facebook has an opportunity with its mobile phone and mobile OS to return to its higher ed roots.  

What would a phone that was designed from the ground up to be an education platform, in addition to a communications / social / gaming, look like?  

What sort of combination of software, hardware, applications and content would be necessary to break the tyranny of the browser in the education space, and move the mobile device into the preeminent spot for learning? 

What acquisitions in the ed tech space would Facebook need to complete to fill out an education ecosystem designed around the mobile experience?   

The answers are not clear to any of these questions.  But what is clear is that Facebook has the resources to tackle the mobile learning problem, and a need to differentiate its platform from Google, Apple, and other competitors.   The fact that learning is a fundamental social experience should give the social network a comparative advantage in thinking about building a platform for mobile learning.

We need one major company, one Microsoft or Apple or Amazon or Google or Facebook (who else?), to decide that education is a key strategic business going forward.   

How can we make the case to the leadership of these companies to take a hard look at the opportunities in education?


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