Hands up if you will buy the up-coming Facebook phone. Anyhow, in the last couple of weeks, rumours have been rife within technology circles and the blogosphere about the imminent release of a Facebook developed phone.
Facebook has not openly admitted to be developing the mentioned phone, but neither have they denied it. Your guess is as good as mine, either it’s just speculation or Facebook might really be developing a phone of their own.
With an ever growing mobile audience, Facebook has been growing wary of not having enough control over their mobile users by ceding control to mobile apps and operating system owners. The largest percentage of mobile Facebook users, currently access their accounts by way of mobile Facebook apps on their devices.
The mobile operating platforms are notorious for locking their users into their ecosystems. Think Apple with their IOS platform of Google’s Android. This is by no means good news to Facebook, basically creating a crowd and allowing someone else to control that crowd.
Perhaps the most logical explanation why Facebook would want to develop a phone, would be to make money. Look beyond economics though, and you will realization the motivation for developing a phone has a lot more to do with have control over their users than just commerce. True they will make money from the phone, but their main objective is to have more control over what services they can push to the mobile users.
Facebook claims 350 million mobile users at the time of writing this article. With such numbers it is not difficult to see why a Facebook phone is not only critical but essential. Facebook believes in deep integration of their services with mobile which they haven’t been able to implement without a mobile ecosystem. Presently, Facebook is little more than just an application that allows users to post status messages, share photos and communicate with friends. Facebook will be looking to integrate its services deeper in the mobile phone, bringing friends and social activities into the mobile interface.
Other mobile platforms have tight control over their ecosystems which inevitably lock out some functionality that Facebook would have loved to have. For instance Apple’s IOS does allow payments out of its IOS even if the payments are for Facebook related services. That guarantees Apple a cut of the in-app payments.
The Facebook phone will purportedly be based on Android with support for HTML5. Some writers have even gone ahead to speculate that the Facebook phone will be manufacture red by HTC. This is not hard to believe since HTC and Facebook have collaborated before on a set of Facebook phones. The decision to partner with HTC must have been an easy one. With two Facebook dedicated phones (the HTC Chacha and HTC Salsa) on their portfolio, HTC is in the best position to develop a Facebook phone, if they really are developing one.
If the Facebook phone becomes a reality, and am guessing it will, it won’t be the first Facebook phone on the market. HTC was first to develop phones with deep Facebook integration.
The HTC Chacha also known as the HTC Status was perhaps the most widely available Facebook phone on the market, with a dedicated Facebook button for sharing status updates, pictures or videos on Facebook with just a single touch. Announced at Mobile World Congress in Feb 2011, the phone was later released a couple of months later.
The phone is powered by an 800MHz Qualcomm MSM7227 processor paired with 512MB of RAM and 500MB of internal storage (expandable to 32GB via micro-sd card). The phone runs Google’s Android 2.3.5 (Gingerbread) modified for the 2.6 inch screen. Being a Facebook-centric phone, you would expect a lot of typing, which is catered for by a nice QWERTY keyboard.
The screen is touch-screen too so you will be scrolling and swiping around with ease.
Other features you would expect from a Smartphone include high speed internet, Blutooth, WIFI, hotspot functionality, HSDPA 7.2 Mbps, 5 mega pixel camera with autofocus and LED flash, a front-facing 1.3 mega pixel camera and 1250 mAh battery.
Other features include, a dedicated Facebook key, Google Search, Maps, Gmail, YouTube, Google Talk, Picasa integration, MP3/AAC+/WAV/WMA player, Video player, Document viewer, Voice memo and Predictive text input.