Facebook has discredited a story that claims it is working on producing a mobile phone based on its own OS, but reports suggest a branded phone is still in the offing.
TechCrunch claimed that Facebook was secretly building a phone of its own, by creating a software platform that would be used on phones built by a third-party – aka the Google Nexus One. The story claimed that the company wants phones to have Facebook contacts and other functions deeply integrated into the OS, and that to do this as it wishes requires creating its own mobile phone OS.
Facebook were quick to discredit the story however, with spokesperson Jaime Schopflin telling CNET that, “Facebook is not building a phone. Our view is that almost all experiences would be better if they were social, so integrating deeply into existing platforms and operating systems is a good way to enable this.
"The bottom line is that whenever we work on a deep integration, people want to call it a 'Facebook Phone' because that's such an attractive soundbite, but building phones is just not what we do."
While this sounds pretty unequivocal, CNET itself is pursuing the issue, stating that Facebook is considering producing a branded phone made by a third-party, and is simply mulling over whether it’s necessary.
That’s a very crucial point, as phones have launched with social networking at their cores before, such as the impressive INQ1. Meanwhile, every smartphone bar the iPhone now has social networking feeds built on top of the OS, and while it may not be integrated, the iPhone Facebook app is a high quality application that is the primary method of accessing Facebook for many users.
Facebook is very much the byword for social networking and with over 500 million users we’ve not convinced it needs a branded phone at all.
Rob Bamforth, Principal Analyst for Communication at Quocirca agrees. “While Facebook is a platform in itself, with new ‘applications’ being created for it, the challenge of making all them... work effectively and stay compatible on a mobile platform would be a brand extension too far. Not only does Facebook not need the branded phone concept as it has a strong enough brand already, it doesn’t need the further headaches that would come with it”.