Facebook reportedly at it again; FacePhone in the works

Reports are circling around the web that the massive social giant Facebook, which is now a public company, is still looking at creating their own hardware. The Facebook Phone, or the FacePhone? Who knows, but according to the New York Times CEO Mark Zuckerberg is seriously looking at the mobile market as a means for future revenue and ventures. 

One Facebook employee is quoted saying the following.

"Mark is worried that if he doesn’t create a mobile phone in the near future that Facebook will simply become an app on other mobile platforms."

We previously looked at rumours being published of Microsoft desiring Facebook to use Windows Phone to power any possible hardware. We commented on how it would make more sense for the social network to adopt Windows Phone as a "Facebook certified platform" as such, since Microsoft's mobile OS is the only one on market which sports deep integration.

Employees of Facebook, among several hired engineers who were sought out by the company, say plans are set for a smartphone to be released by next year. According to these very souls, Facebook has hired more than a dozen former Apple software and hardware engineers who previously worked on the iPhone and iPad.

Facebook and HTC were reported last year to have entered into a partnership, and are still actively working on a smartphone, code-named "Buffy". With the added team members, many with Apple product experience, the company has been diving deeper into the development process. When pressed for a confirmation that a Facebook phone was in the works, the company neither denied or affirmed the report.

"We’re working across the entire mobile industry; with operators, hardware manufacturers, OS providers, and application developers."

Facebook has been secretively quiet, with little information being revealed to the world of the company's plans. But Hugo Fiennes, former Apple hardware manager for the iPhone, explained difficulties Facebook would encounter.

“Building isn’t something you can just jump into. You change the smallest thing on a smartphone and you can completely change how all the antennas work. You don’t learn this unless you’ve been doing it for a while. Going into the phone business is incredibly complex."

What Facebook does have is the potential foundations of a platform. Messaging, contacts, calendar, video, photos, apps and even recently purchased Instagram are all under the Facebook umbrella of social connectivity. Carolina Milanesi, a vice president and analyst at Gartner, commented on the future plans:

“When you offer an advertising-based phone, you’re targeting all the users on prepay that are budget-conscious of their communications costs.”

This would pin Facebook up against Google with mass market pushing, especially with Google+ still around. The companies could take the same approach as Amazon by subsidising some of the costs through advertising to bring prices down on hardware for consumers.

But would a Facebook phone sell? Take a look at how Microsoft is doing with Windows Phone. The push is a tough one, even with Facebook, Twitter, Windows Live and even LinkedIn fully integrated into the platform. We know the question burning on your mind - what would this Facebook smartphone look like?

WP Central

Source: NY Times; via: iMore

Rich Edmonds
Senior Editor, PC Build

Rich Edmonds was formerly a Senior Editor of PC hardware at Windows Central, covering everything related to PC components and NAS. He's been involved in technology for more than a decade and knows a thing or two about the magic inside a PC chassis. You can follow him on Twitter at @RichEdmonds.