Is Facebook secretly building a phone?

Sun, Sep 19, 2010

News, Rumors

That’s what Michael Arrington of TechCrunch is asserting.

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…

It was a little less than a year ago that we broke the news that Google was working on a phone of its own – which was eventually revealed as the Nexus One. It was about that time, says out source, that Facebook first became concerned about the increasing power of the iPhone and Android platforms. And that awesome Facebook apps for those phones may not be enough to counter a long term competitive threat.

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.

Two high level Facebook employees – Joe Hewitt and Matthew Papakipos – are said to be secretly working on the project, which is unknown even to most Facebook staff.

Interesting, and if true, sounds like a flop in the making. The beauty of Facebook is that you can keep up with, and keep tabs on, all sorts of friends. Good friends from College, old friends from the neighborhood, and even weird co-workers who post risque Facebook photos on a weekly basis. The leap from wanting to keep up with your social network to integrating that social network into your phone contact list is huge and unwarranted. Suffice it to say, anyone worth having in your contact list is probably already on your phone.

Update: Shocking news, everyone. Arrington is wrong. Facebook has subsequently denied the TC story.

The story, which originated in Techcrunch, is not accurate,” a spokesperson told Mashable. “Facebook is not building a phone.” The company told the publication that it’s focusing on “deep integration” with existing mobile platforms, but that “building phones is just not what we do.”



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