Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Long-Denied Facebook Phone Could Be Coming Soon

After years of denying rumors that it is out to create a Facebook-branded smartphone Relevant Products/Services, the social-media kingpin is now reportedly admitting that an HTC-created handset is in the making -- though as much as 18 months from release.

Reports Tuesday said the device Relevant Products/Services would be nicknamed Buffy, a monicker that grew from the codename "Slayer," which could either be a juxtaposition of social and layer or a reference to the widely held goal of "slaying" Apple's top-selling iPhone. Buffy, of course, is the sexy cheerleader who slayed vampires in a 1997-2003 WB TV series, based on a 1992 film of the same name.

Tweaking Android Relevant Products/Services

The Wall Street Journal's tech blog All Things D reported that the phone will be powered by a tweaked-up version of Google's Android operating system, to integrate Facebook features such as friend requests, comments and likes as well as support HTML5 as an applications platform.

The Journal cited "sources familiar with the project." Facebook Chief Technical Officer Bret Taylor has led the project, the report said.

As recently as January, Facebook was shooting down rumors that such a device was in the works.

While Facebook and Taiwanese-based HTC would not comment on the report, a Facebook spokesman hinted that deals could be in the works with other manufacturers, telling All Things D: "Our mobile Relevant Products/Services strategy is simple: We think every mobile device is better if it is deeply social. We're working across the entire mobile industry; with operators, hardware manufacturers, OS providers, and application Relevant Products/Services developers to bring powerful social experiences to more people around the world."

New Territory

Selling a phone would mark a departure for the wildly successful social network Relevant Products/Services founded by Mark Zuckerberg in 2004, which claims 721 million active users and has prided itself on having no inventory of physical products. The company's income derives from ads and selling virtual Relevant Products/Services products, such as birthday cakes, as well as selling access Relevant Products/Services to application- and game-makers.

The question is, other than die-hard Facebook addicts and fans, why would anyone need a Facebook phone when they can easily access the network directly or through apps Relevant Products/Services on any other smartphone, some of which -- like HTC's ChaCha -- have dedicated Facebook buttons for instant sharing?

"I guess it all depends how integrated the device is when accessing social-media sites and connections," said wireless Relevant Products/Services analyst Kirk Parsons of JD Power and Associates. "If there are a couple of new ways to access info that makes it either easier, or cooler -- or both -- they may succeed, but given that the launch is at least 12 to 15 months away, it would need to be ground-breaking to make a dent or gain share in an already crowded smartphone segment."

All Things D said Facebook also considered working with South Korea-based Samsung on the phone project.

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