Facebook rumored to develop a smartphone
This is not the first time Facebook has been reported to be working on a handset. All Things Digital reported in November 2011 that the company had partnered with Taiwan-based HTC to develop a smartphone powered by a bespoke version of Android that closely integrated a number of Facebook features. When news of the Buffy-codenamed phone emerged, it was allegedly 12-to-18 months away from going on sale. But now Facebook has decided to extend this work as well as “exploring other smartphone projects too,” with a team of staff who have created handsets before.
But even if Facebook does come up with something compelling in the smartphone space, the company will still have to spec it, source the parts and partner with a manufacturer and carrier. Analysts believe if there is a Facebook phone in the works it will probably be a while before its status is updated to ready.
Will the smartphone market see another competitor or not, Apple’s CEO Tim Cook said “Facebook is a great company… our relationship is very solid. I think we can do more with them.” Thus, despite Facebook’s rumored foray into the smartphone market, Cook appears to still see it as a potential partner, not a competitor.
Gemalto’s software development team has previously embedded the Facebook software application into the SIM, ensuring the app is compatible with 100% of SIM-compliant mobile phones. HTC has also developed two new phones built entirely to be social, combining HTC Sense with the connectivity of Facebook. The handset maker introduced HTC ChaCha and HTC Salsa featuring a dedicated Facebook button for one-touch access to the key functions of the Facebook service (cf. SIW #11-08).
At the same time, Calcalist, a business publication, suggests Facebook may be eyeing the purchase of Face.com, a facial recognition technology website, for up to US$ 100 million (EUR 80 million).
Meanwhile, Google has finalized the acquisition of Motorola Mobility, partly becoming a hardware company (cf. Smart Insights Weekly #12-22).