At this point it is still only rumor and Facebook has denied that they are or have any interest in developing a phone, but the noise on this one is getting to loud to tune out. Even with a company as secretive as Facebook, this would amount to a major step for the company and it is very hard to keep a lid on something like that.
Based on the latest reports by Bloomberg, Facebook is developing not one but possibly two smartphones with mobile phone maker INQ Mobile that would be more tightly integrated with the Facebook platform than any other smartphone to date. The buzz is that the phone(s) would possibly use AT&T as a carrier, though that would mean they are GSM and not CDMA, and with their first foray into smartphones I don’t know that Facebook would want to limit themselves to just one carrier, but that’s the word so far. The phone(s) would be released in Europe during the first part of 2011 and then based on response, I would guess, be brought to the U.S. during the second half of the year.
So far all the facts add up to tell a very compelling story. Facebook is still struggling to come up with something that even closely resembles a viable long term business/revenue model that would warrant its outrageous valuation, which is in the several billion last time I checked. Partnering with INQ makes a lot of sense for Facebook as well since they already have intimate knowledge into how to tightly integrate with Facebook from the experience with launching the INQ1 last year, which featured built-in integration with Facebook, Skype, Yahoo, Google, eBay, and Windows Messenger.
In a statement on other information, Facebook said that they feel that all experiences would be better if they had some sort of social element to them. The thought to do a phone that was specifically social networking focused is not new, Microsoft tried this a few months ago with the Kin and failed miserably, though lots of people will tell you they used that to test some of the core elements of Windows Phone 7.
In the end, the odds favor that Facebook really is working on some kind of mobile phone, though I think that a lot of the other details are still up in the air. One of the biggest issues is carriers, reports at this point are saying AT&T, but to me that just wouldn’t make any sense at all. It makes a whole lot more sense for them to hit every carrier or if they go exclusive they need to go with Verizon or Sprint over AT&T. Why you ask? AT&T already has an 800 pound gorilla called the iPhone and I just don’t see why Facebook would want to compete with that out of the gate. I guess we will see how this turns out, but what do you think? Would you buy a “Facebook Phone”, do you think there is a big enough group of people that want Facebook to be the core of their mobile phone experience (vice a part of it) to warrant them doing this? Let us know, leave a comment.