Social networking Web site Facebook is believed to be working with Taiwanese smartphone manufacturer HTC, in an attempt to develop a device to be released sometime in the middle of 2013, a Bloomberg report stated. The report said the information had been sourced from people "with knowledge of the matter".
This will not be the first such venture between the two giants - HTC released two Android-based smartphones - the Salsa and the ChaCha - in 2011. The phones provide direct access to the Facebook app. More reports of a third phone began circulating in April and it was suggested the new device would have "a platform exclusive to Facebook". Those reports suggested a 2012 release for the device, while an even earlier report, by AllThings D, suggested a device that could integrate the social networking Web site with the core of the smartphone, which was to be codenamed Buffy.
In any case, the financial and revenue implications of a popular Facebook smartphone are not to be dismissed lightly. Bloomberg reports more than half the 900 million Facebook subscribers access the social networking Web site through mobile devices. However, that market accounted for nothing in the £2.03bn the company made in 2011, through advertising sales from smartphones.
"Usage is shifting to mobile, and they have not been able to monetize mobile," said Victor Anthony, an analyst at Topeka Capital Markets Inc., was quoted as saying by Bloomberg, "To the extent that it's a device you own and carry around with you at all times, and it ties into the Facebook experience, it will be beneficial. They could then put a lot of ads onto the platform."
Furthermore, one of the advantages of using an Android base is the ability to modify the software, keeping in mind the speciifc requirements of Facebook. The company, meanwhile, has also hired a team of former Apple programmers to work on revamping their iPhone apps.
"Our mobile strategy is simple: We think every mobile device is better if it is deeply social," said Facebook representative Ana Brekalo according to CNET, "We're working across the entire mobile industry - with operators, hardware manufacturers, OS providers, and application developers to bring powerful social experiences to more people around the world."