Facebook is absolutely working on a phone (or they're nuts)

Facebook phone was the big internet flurry of the weekend -- are they making one, are they not making one, what does a Facebook phone even mean?

Techcrunch, who claim the Nexus One vindicated their longstanding assertions of a Google phone, now say Facebook is also working a branded device.

Facebook is building a mobile phone, says a source who has knowledge of the project. Or rather, they’re building the software for the phone and working with a third party to actually build the hardware.

In a world where Apple, Google, Microsoft and HP/Palm have branded devices to go along with their other assorted software, hardware, and services, TC says Facebook is doing it as a competitive hedge.

Facebook issued a statement to Mashable denying the "charges":

“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.

Which could be read as similar to Steve Jobs' "no one wants to watch video on an iPod" statements, and is followed byso much marketing speak as to be rendered appropriately meaningless anyway.

Facebook has Joe Hewitt, who created the once trend-setting, now languishing, Facebook for iPhone. Facebook has Eric Tseng who used to be intimately involved in developing Android for Google.

Facebook sees the battle-lines being drawn. They're a closed garden on their own website but they're only one app, one site, among many on a smartphone. Apple has launched Game Center and Ping. Microsoft is bringing Xbox live to mobile. Google is stalking Farmville-makers Zynga and might be on the verge of launching their own "Google Me" Facebook competitor.

Friendster, MySpace, plenty of other networks have seen their user population migrate to newer, more appealing platforms. It's a competition for attention, retention, and the ad an assorted other revenue that comes with captured eyeballs. Facebook, like everyone else, wants to and needs to stay competitive in an increasingly mobile world. Google's already shown them the model - huge web presence with services on every mobile platfom, and a

Facebook is absolutely working on a branded phone with killer Facebook integration (maybe on top of Android OS?), at least in the lab, at least as a contingency plan.

Whether they ever decide to release it or not is a completely separate question.

But they're working on it. Or they're nuts.

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Rene Ritchie

EiC of iMore, EP of Mobile Nations, Apple analyst, co-host of Debug, Iterate, Vector, Review, and MacBreak Weekly podcasts. Cook, grappler, photon wrangler. Follow him on Twitter and Google+.

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Reader comments

Facebook is absolutely working on a phone (or they're nuts)


Stu... you're my hero. My thoughts exactly! That app becomes more of a train wreck with every new update they release!

Of course they are.
"Facebook is not building a phone" is simply PR speak. No, they're not "building the phone," but they ARE building the phone OS.
Think about it:
They have millions of users (like Apple).
They have an ecosystem of thousands of apps that generate money (like Apple).
They already have an system of displaying ads (before Apple did).
If they can adapt those thousands of apps to work in a mobile Facebook OS, they'd instantly have a huge competitor to the App Store and iOS, in addition to an army of developers and loyal users.

Maybe then I'll finally be able to see my friends friends. Anyone else having trouble viewing your friends friends ? I get an error message when using my iPhone 4.

I'm sick of going to touch.Facebook.com just to look at a picture or who's posted to it. On the native app I still get an error. And I also get errors when there are multiple posts in threads. They still disappear. App never gets any better.

Seriously??? Maybe Facebook should stick to what they're good at... ok, maybe Facebook to stick to what they're TRYING to be good at. Yes, they are hugely successful, but as a phone?
I don't plan on getting a Facephone anytime soon.

A Facebook phone makes no sense at all. They have plenty of work to do with creating a better app and figuring out how they will be profitable in future.
It's laughable to think they would create an OS, hardware, and contracts with carriers with no experience in such things. Even if they could it still doesn't make sense.
Anyone who says it is a good idea simply doesn't know what they are talking about.

this is for the future. this isn't for us(anyone older than 21). my little brother uses facebook AS his phone. he doesn't really text all that much anymore, everything is done with wall posts and his friends all do the same.
older users wont jump on this tech but i see the the kids of today that basically LIVE on facebook eating this up. the facebook interface for communication is here to stay, "places" isn't even for us, its for "them"(the young ones). i(very unscientifically) surveyed my little brother and his friends: they have absolutely no problem sharing their locations and wont have a problem when they get older, because they had been using it all their lives.
the facebook phone is a smart idea and i think will(and should) happen. you have MILLIONS of 10-13 year olds and younger who have grown up with facebook, not knowing anything else. THEY will buy the phone, not us.

and another thing... one day facebook WILL add VOIP calls between users and at that point, having a phone(anything with a speaker really) will make it compelling...

@Allex, well said, thats what I was thinking the whole weekend when this story was surfacing around the web. Tweens will eat this up, I can see it now, when dad upgrades to his new smartphone and verizon says oh you want one for free.. his 12 year old teeny bopper, will be like facebook phone FTW!

Uh...wasn't this what the Kin was supposed to be all about? With all the bugs they've had and how long it takes them to fix it, there is no way I can see them able to build and support a new OS...not one that I would buy, anyway.

What do you mean, the Facebook iPhone app is languishing??? For me and my wife, the Facebook app gets the most daily usage, even more than email, and certainly more than phone calls.

Just had an idea. Facebook could buy the rights to KIN off Microsoft for what, about 2 grand. Slap the ugly F logo on it, get the Facebook app to run on KIN OS or whatever it's called, and boom. Facebook phone. They could give them away at all showings of The Social Network.