We’ve been hearing rumors about Facebook’s supposed grand mobile plans for quite some time, but until now, they had but a whiff of credibility. The last one in particular, coming from the New York Times, sounded extremely far-fetched, stating that Facebook was considering building a smartphone from scratch, both in terms of hardware and software.
A new report seems to set the record straight about Facebook’s bold, but sane plans of getting in the smartphone business. According to Bloomberg, Mark Zuckerberg’s company is currently working on a phone with deep integration of Facebook features, but they have sought help from their old partners at HTC.
FB and HTC have worked on a similar “project” before, but the ChaCha (also known as the Status) hasn’t exactly proven a winner. This time around, however, we hope we’ll be treated with a better endowed gadget.
Unfortunately, Bloomberg’s sources (or “people with knowledge of the matter”, as the news online publication calls them) didn’t let any details slip about the hardware of the upcoming phone. As far as software goes, earlier rumors that Facebook will look to fork Android just like Amazon seem to be getting traction.
What’s interesting is that Facebook might not use HTC’s software expertise to tweak Android, but its own team of engineers recruited from ex-Apple and Palm employees. This worries us a bit, as we don’t know exactly how much experience with Android those programmers have, but at least the future device might forego HTC’ Sense overlay, which is not that popular.
The unnamed Facebook-HTC smartphone should have been released by the end of the year, according to initial plans, but will not come earlier than mid-2013 after all. The delay has been requested by HTC to allow them to work on other products of their own and then dedicate their time entirely to this project.
Both Facebook and HTC are currently in search of their financial “groove”, so this kind of bold enterprise might make or break their finances. FB is still the most popular social networking service by miles, but its initial public offering from May 17 has probably caused Mark Zuckerberg some serious financial headaches. The now publicly listed company has seen its shares fall 23 percent in the past two months, and “Zuck” is seeing “the shift to mobile” as Facebooks’s greatest challenge right now. Meanwhile, HTC has gone down the slippery slope of financial losses for about a year now, with its shares dropping 43 percent in 2012.
What are your thoughts? Could the new HTC-Facebook phone bring back financial stability to Taiwan, and make mobile profitable in California? Why? Why not?