UPDATE 3-Facebook aims to take centerstage on Android phones

Thu Apr 4, 2013 6:32pm EDT
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* AT&T will sell HTC-made "Home" exclusively, price $100

* Facebook takes battle for ad revenue, user times to Google

* Facebook's shares climb, Google's fall

By Gerry Shih

MENLO PARK, Calif., April 4 (Reuters) - Facebook Inc on Thursday unveiled its most ambitious attempt yet to enter mobile computing market without a phone of its own, introducing a new app that replaces the home screen on some Android smartphones.

Called "Home," Facebook's new software will let users comprehensively modify Android, the popular mobile operating system developed by Google, to prominently display their Facebook newsfeed and messages on the home screens of a wide range of devices - while hiding other apps.

"Why do we need to go into those apps in the first place to see what's going on with those we care about?" Facebook Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg told the hundreds of reporters and industry executives gathered at the company's Menlo Park campus.

"We want to bring all this content to the front."

The "Home" software will be available for download for free from Google Play starting April 12. In addition, AT&T Inc has exclusive rights to sell for $100 the first handsets, made by Taiwan's HTC Corp, that come pre-installed with the software starting the same day. France Telecom's Orange will be offering the phone in Europe.   Continued...