Facebook smartphone rumors have made the news in the past, but none panned out. This time it may be different, though.
Facebook has announced a press event for Thursday and is inviting reporters to "Come See Our New Home on Android." That invitation has set off a firestorm of rumors about Facebook entering the hardware business. Is it just more hype or is there a seed of truth to the latest round of speculation?
"Facebook will introduce a special version of Google's Android software system next week that is modified to put the social network front and center on a smartphone," The New York Times reported. "The software will debut on a handset made by HTC, according to a Facebook employee and another person who were briefed on the announcement."
Looks Like Another App
Facebook could not immediately be reached for comment, but earlier declined to comment on The New York Times report. Derick Mains, a Facebook spokesman, however, did tell the Times that it would be a "significant mobile-focused announcement." Of course, that could be just about anything.
The Wall Street Journal, meanwhile, is also reporting on Facebook's "more visible embrace of Android." Like The New York Times story, however, The Wall Street Journal piece centers on a Facebook app for Android, not hardware.
"Facebook's move to become more deeply embedded into Android smartphones comes as the social networking company becomes increasingly aggressive on mobile," the Journal reports. "After several missteps, Facebook rejiggered the company last year to be mobile-centric, overhauling the structure of the organization and revamping its applications for Apple's iPhone and Google's Android operating systems."
How About a Facebook OS?
While smaller tech sites are working hard to hype hardware, it seems Facebook is sticking with software. A Facebook phone, in partnership with HTC, may be more about having a special button built into the hardware that will streamline Facebook updates. But even that's mere speculation at this point.
Roger Entner, a wireless industry analyst at Recon Analytics, said there are many Facebook employees with a background in device hardware engineering. But he doesn't believe it's necessary for Facebook to have its own Android device.
"It would be very interesting if Facebook would develop its own platform and then all the applications and games that run on Facebook on the desktop would also run there," Entner told us. "That's the huge gap."
Entner also pointed to the competitive marketplace for smartphones. Only Apple and Samsung are actually making money, he said. All other handset manufacturers are either losing money or they aren't earning a meaningful amount. Still, Facebook may be poised to do something different on the mobile front.
"Facebook is seeing how Google is getting stronger and stronger and how Google is more and more encroaching into the core Facebook space with Google+," Entner said. "It either drives them closer to Apple or it drives them to build their own device."
Posted: 2013-04-03 @ 7:29am PT
Facebook is too addicting, so many people will like it.