Despite company CEO Mark Zuckerberg flat out denying it, rumors of a Facebook phone will simply not die. Last year TechCrunch was certain that Facebook was secretly building a phone and this time London daily business newspaper City A.M. is back with a new report that includes even more juicy details. City A.M. is one of the few sites that broke the news on the Nexus S, so let’s give them the benefit of the doubt and assume their contacts are correct again.
According to unnamed sources, Facebook has selected HTC to produce a pair of phones that include the Facebook branding and colors, which will be revealed at Mobile World Congress next month. One phone will feature a touch-only slate design and the other will pack a physical QWERTY keyboard. The devices will run a tweaked version of Android that incorporates all of Facebook’s services including messages, chat, and the ability to call your friends.
Two high-level Facebook employees, Joe Hewitt (who worked on the Firefox web browser) and Matthew Papakipos (a leading member of the Google Chrome browser team), are said to be leading the project. We also believe that Erick Tseng, the former Google product manager who worked on the Nexus One, is also involved with the project. Mr. Tseng has close ties to HTC, so it makes sense that Facebook might have chosen them to produce a phone.
Facebook CTO Bret Taylor recently told an audience of developers that “Mobile is our primary focus for our platform this year.” Facebook keeps publicly saying that their goal is on pushing HTML5 standards for the mobile web, but at this point I see no reason for them not to make a phone.
All of the details in the City A.M. report might not come true, but I believe there is some truth behind the report. Do you think it would be wise for Facebook to try and launch their own branded devices?