If there’s any truth to the rumors that Facebook is announcing a company-developed phone later this week, social networking addicts will be pleased.
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Speculation is mounting that the social media giant will announce a phone that would open the site directly on its home screen, so users wouldn’t have to open up a separate app to update friends on the whereabouts, post pictures or check their friends’ statuses.
TechCrunch.com’s Josh Constantine says his sources report Facebook will release an HTC handset that will run on a slightly modified version of the Android operating system. The home screen will be completely customized for users’ Facebook profiles, showing their newsfeed and chats.
“This is Facebook’s dream operating system. You can get into this without having to open an app. This will also allow Facebook chat no matter what other apps they are currently using—it will float over the other apps they have open.”
However, he describes the phone as a “lower-grade, more mass-market smartphone.”
While Facebook’s popularity can hardly be questioned with more than one billion users, it has denied being interested in creating a phone for several years, and some question whether such a specific product would be appealing in the saturated smartphone market.
“It’s for hardcore social networkers,” Constantine says. “Their whole social life is on it. This is what they are on their phone to do all day long. It’s for social networkers first and foremost, so it’s not a huge market.”
Facebook is attempting to grab hold of a larger share of the smartphone market, Constantine says, the same way Google did with its Android phone.
While some may not go for the actual HTC phone, others may want to use the “Home” feature on their Android phones, he says. There is no information on pricing for the phone or operating system as of yet, as the reports have yet to be confirmed by Facebook.
Any move on Facebook’s part to generate more traffic and will help it increase its revenue, so even if the phone itself may not be a huge seller, the move will boost the company’s bottom line, says Constantine.
“They want more control of the phone ecosystem. Facebook wants to know more about its users and have more social functionality on the phone.”