Facebook will host a new special media event on April 4 during which it will show the world its “new home on Android.” While the announcement is rather cryptic by itself, we can’t but think of that HTC Myst handset that’s reportedly being built for Facebook.
This wouldn’t be the first Facebook smartphone, but unlike the HTC ChaCha and Salsa that preceded it, this HTC device could run a new Android OS fork specially designed by Facebook:
This will be a deeper, forked version of Android rather than a Facebook-ified version of Sense.
The mythical Facebook phone has been rumored for quite some time now, but every time it had to answer about its mobile plans, the social network denied that it’s working on such a product. Considering that Facebook is present on probably all smartphones out there, no matter what platform they’d use, having a Facebook phone in shops doesn’t sound like a necessity, but it looks like that’s the way Facebook is heading.
Not to mention that Facebook has its own, photo, calling and messaging apps that could further help users stay within Facebook when using their current smartphones. But that may not be enough for the social giant that wants to meet the profit demands of its investors.
From a different point of view, Facebook seems more and more interested in taking on Google in different other niches, mobile included. Google hit Facebook with Google+, and now Facebook seems ready to be hitting back with its first steps in search but also smartphones. And like Amazon, instead of designing a new OS from the ground up, it could simply fork Android into something that suits its needs. Obviously, the forked Android OS will integrate Facebook’s mobile apps, but it will be interesting to see what kind of app store access the device will have to offer.
Remember though that we’re just speculating at this point, using the available information about Facebook existing products, as we have no solid information on what’s coming in just a few days.
One report does say that Facebook and HTC are actively working on an ad campaign to promote the new product. Instead of focusing on its hardware or software, the companies are rather targeting the user directly, as 9to5 Google notes.
According to people familiar with the development of the marketing campaign for the Facebook/HTC phone, the advertisements are designed to focus on the potential user of the device, not on the hardware or software. As a nod to this phone being a much expanded version of the Facebook application found on iOS and standard Android devices, one of the tag-lines for the device is “more than just an app”.
We have no details on actual hardware features, but the device is said to be “competitive with the current mobile device landscape,” and sources that had access to the device describe it as an iPhone-like handset complete with Home button at the center flacked by “horizontal function keys.” Previous rumors say that the device could sport a 4.3-inch display, but the publication says the handset will be “about the size of an iPhone 5,” thus featuring a 4-inch display.
Other rumored specs for the handset, also presented in older articles, include a 1.5GHz processor, 1GB of RAM, 16GB of storage, 5-megapixel camera and 1.6-megapixel front-facing shooter.
Pricing and launch details aren’t available at this time, but Facebook and HTC are said to be in negotiations with at least a couple of carriers. Is AT&T one of them? If recent FCC documents are to be believed, and the HTC Myst is indeed the Facebook phone, then we could see the carrier launch a Facebook phone later this year.
We’ll thoroughly cover the April 4 Facebook events for you, at which point we’ll have more answers for your questions. Meanwhile, let us know whether you’d be interested in such a Facebook phone, or you’d rather stick with actual Android.