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Facebook tries to stop its staff using iPhones in 'dogfood' push

Need to appeal to the non-beret-wearing user

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Facebook's campaign against the Apple iPhone has moved up a notch: staff are urged to grab an Android gadget and bug test the social network's mobile app as more punters plump for Google's operating system.

Facebook employees are now told to eat their own "droidfood" - a reference to the software development approach of using one's own product - and tech support is offered for those taking the plunge. Charts using IDC numbers show how Android devices will comprehensively dominate the market by 2016, and Facebook is justifiably worried that iPhone-touting staff will be increasingly disconnected from their users.

The social network's worker bees are expected to be beta testers too, apparently reporting bugs though an automated process triggered by violently shaking the handset - the "rage shake" - but if all the staff are using iPhones then the testing is far from complete, which is why Facebook would like to see more Android handsets around the office.

But it's not just about finding bugs: Facebook is converting itself into a mobile platform and its programmers need to understand how ordinary users experience the service, something only possible by using similar hardware themselves.

Mobile network O2, when your correspondent worked for it many years ago, required staff in the devices department to change handsets every two months, which was a pain but ensured employees got a feel for the devices customers were using rather than just playing with the latest and greatest hardware.

Facebook told TechCrunch that it ultimately lets workers select their preferred handset platform, but it isn't beyond pushing them in the right direction in the hope of maintaining a balance of platforms amongst the beta-tester group employees. ®

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