Update 03.11.10: Zuckerberg and I, same page
On Sunday a seemingly ridiculous rumour began circling the Internet and four days later it refuses to go away - only I wish it would...
'Facebook Is Secretly Building A Phone' declared controversial TechCrunch head honcho Michael Arrington. He claimed a "source who has knowledge of the project" confirmed the social networking giant is "building the software for the phone and working with a third party to actually build the hardware. Which is exactly what Apple and everyone else does, too."
"Specifically, Facebook wants to integrate deeply into the contacts list and other core functions of the phone. It can only do that if it controls the operating system," the report explained. It went on to speculate about the roles of senior Facebook employees Joe Hewitt and Matthew Papakipos on the project which is "unknown even to most Facebook staff".
Traction was briefly gained when Silicon Alley Insider followed-up that the alleged Facebook phone was to be based around Google's Android OS "for sure" before Facebook spokesperson Jaime Schopflin shot it down in a formal statement saying:
"The story, which originated in Techcrunch, is not accurate. Facebook is not building a phone. Our approach has always been to make phones and apps more social... 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."
That should have been the end of the matter, but TechCrunch flew into action proclaiming the 'Anatomy Of A PR Spin (AKA How To Lie Like A Pro)' and it does have a track record here having successfully scooped the fact Google was working on its own-branded smartphone (eventually the Nexus One) and held to it despite initial denials from the California mega-corp. "So why did Facebook do this?" raved Arrington. "Normally they would just say 'we don’t respond to rumors and speculation' when anyone talks about leaks around future products. But this was different. Here’s the reason – they don’t want to freak out Google and Apple and everyone else."
Consequently we have a story that just won't die and countless column inches are being written debating its validity. Having read more of these reports than is healthy not a single one has changed my initial reaction. That remains I don't care and neither should you - and here's why...