With the latest leak, the mythical Facebook phone has become the most-talked-about-phone-not-to-be-released in recent memory.
Rumours of such as device stretch back to 2010, and it’s Bloomberg with the story this time, once again linking Facebook with HTC, who’re said to be working together on a phone set to be released near the middle of next year.
Last year, a leak talked about the HTC Buffy, the codename for the Facebook phone, when the plan was to release the device by the end of 2012. If Bloomberg’s sources are correct, and the Buffy project is still up and running, this date has obviously now slipped.
According to the same report, more than half of the 900 million Facebook members already access the site using a mobile device, so the world’s isn’t hurting for a way to see pictures of friends’ babies on the move.
This figure could increase again in autumn, when iOS 6 is released complete with Facebook integration. The next iPhone will effectively become the current “Facebook phone,” just as it gave Twitter a boost with the introduction of iOS 5.
All about ads
So why is Facebook so desperate to get in on the act? It’s not about the hardware, but the software, as engineers at the company — including several who have come from Apple — are working on a modified operating system, most likely based on Android.
This software will not only pull together all of Facebook’s primary features into a handy package, but also let Facebook place ads almost anywhere it wants, and advertising revenue is how Facebook survives. It has so far struggled to exploit its mobile apps in this area, but will find it easier with its own custom OS.
The approach is not unlike the Amazon Kindle Fire, the Nexus 7, both of which act as delivery systems for the parent company’s other services, where they all make the majority of their money. The also rumoured Amazon smartphone will probably work in the same way.
It’s difficult to get overly excited about a Facebook phone for three reasons: Several phones have already claimed the title and promptly disappeared, various mobile apps seem to satisfy most users already, and finally, there’s a good chance it’ll be full of ads.
You never know though, as when (and if) it does eventually arrive, it could be so great we’ll be forced to eat our words.