July 27, 2012
HTC-Developed Facebook Smartphone Could Be Out Next Year
redOrbit Staff & Wire Reports - Your Universe Online
New reports that surfaced Thursday suggest the oft-rumored Facebook smartphone is the real deal, and that the social networking giant will be teaming with manufacturer HTC on a device due to be released sometime next year.
Sources familiar with the matter told Bloomberg reporters Tim Culpan, Adam Satariano and Olga Kharif that the two companies had initially considered releasing the smartphone by the end of the year, but ultimately pushed it back until mid-2013 in order to give HTC more time to complete other products.
The Facebook smartphone is expected to use a modified version of Google's Android operating system and is being developed in order to help the social media giant in its attempts to gain ground in the mobile market, Salvador Rodriguez of the Los Angeles Times said.
“Our mobile strategy is simple: We think every mobile device is better if it is deeply social,” representatives of the Mark Zuckerberg-founded company, which is based in Menlo Park, said in a statement, according to Bloomberg. “We´re working across the entire mobile industry; with operators, hardware manufacturers, OS providers, and application developers to bring powerful social experiences to more people around the world.”
ZDNet's Adrian Kingsley-Hughes isn't convinced that a smartphone is the solution for Facebook, however.
"The problem facing Facebook is that while its users are moving to mobile platforms such as iOS and Android, the company's ad income is reliant on people using the site on desktop browsers. Its own app hasn't helped redress the balance, so now in order to satisfy shareholders, the social network giant now hopes that a smartphone of its own -- along with a revamped platform -- might," he explained.
"The issue here isn't whether Facebook could develop a smartphone -- it could, especially if it has help from the likes of HTC -- but whether it can successfully market such a handset," Kingsley-Hughes added. "Introducing to market a new Android handset with a few Facebook-specific tweaks is unlikely to work because people can already access what they need from Facebook from existing mobile hardware“¦ The idea that Facebook is going to be able to convince people to buy a Facebook phone just to see ads is ludicrous."
Facebook isn't putting all of its mobile eggs in one basket, though. Rodriguez reports that the company is also prepping a "new and much faster" app for Apple iOS devices, which is scheduled to come out in the next couple of months. Bloomberg added that the iPhone version of the social networking app could also be given a massive overhaul sometime next year, and that Facebook had brought in several former Apple, Palm, and Push Pop Press employees to help in this and in all of their mobile expansion efforts.
As for HTC, their decision to partner with Facebook on the proposed smartphone seems like a no-brainer. As Telegraph Consumer Technology Editor Matt Warman pointed out, the Taiwanese company "has already produced the first phones to feature a dedicated Facebook button, and is looking for a way to differentiate its products from those of rival manufacturer Samsung. Its flagship One X device has been dogged by bans on US sales following a patent dispute with Apple. Shares in HTC have dropped 43 per cent this year after it reported three consecutive quarters of profit decline."