Facebook is reportedly working with device maker HTC to build its new branded smartphone, and the device will be ready to launch by this time next year, sources say.
Bloomberg reports sources close to both companies say the two had intended to release the device as early as late this year, but chose to push the launch date back to give HTC more time to work on other products. Facebook is also developing a modified version of Android for the device and has hired former Apple execs to help bolster the project. HTC previously worked with Facebook on the “ChaCha” phone, an Android phone with a dedicated Facebook button to share music, photos and messages.
Yankee Group Senior VP of Research Wally Swain comments
“The interesting thing about this article isn't the Facebook phone itself, about which a rumor starts to circulate every year it seems, but the line that it was postponed so that HTC could work on other projects—presumably more important projects. So this project doesn't seem to have much traction with HTC—which apparently doesn't see this as the answer to its current financial issues—or with Facebook. Otherwise, why would Zuckerberg and Co. so calmly let HTC get on with its apparently much more important business? Let's face it (so to speak). The world is not clamoring for a Facebook phone because it fails the fundamental test: Why would someone need a Facebook-optimized device? And if we admitted it did, what characteristics would it have? One-button access? That's been done and never made the top 10 devices sold. A faster browser? Why just for Facebook? A dedicated Farmville button? What happens when fads move on? At best, this is a branding exercise so that HTC can align itself with Facebook. It isn't a solution to Facebook's mobile problems, which have to be solved on a broader base of platforms than just a single device. And if the benefit is just for HTC, and it doesn’t find it a priority, then the rumor will die again for this year, as it does every other.”
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