Facebook : We’re Not Working On A Phone. Really?

Iohana Georgescu

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Facebook is not working on a mobile phone. Then again, did any company ever admit it was actually developing a handset before launch?

We previously believed that Facebook was secretly building a mobile phone. To an extent we still believe the same but Facebook has recently come out and tried to deny that such a device is really in plans. It all started from TechCrunch who had a source that ran across some information which led everyone to believe that the social network company was working on building the software for a smartphone while a third party company would take care of the hardware. So far, it sounds like most other companies, such as Apple, Google and others did and it’s not hard to believe at all. In fact, it makes a lot of sense that Facebook would consider building such a device and this is one of the most believable rumors I’ve heard in a pretty long time.

But Facebook immediately responded. According to one of the company’s official representatives, Facebook is not really developing any kind of device. Jaime Schopflin, a spokesperson for Facebook told Reuters that the story isn’t accurate, the company isn’t building a phone and its approach was always to make phones and applications more social. Apparently, Facebook has multiple projects running at the moment and they include everything from a HTML 5 version of the social network to applications for major platforms, full Connect support with SDKs or deeper integration with certain manufacturers. The spokesperson continued by mentioning that the company believes all experiences would be better if they were social and the best way to offer this would be to integrate deeply into the existing mobile platforms and operating systems. Schopflin ended the statement by mentioning that “the bottom line is that whenever we work on a deep integration, people want to call it a ‘Facebook Phone’ because that’s such an attractive soundbite, but building phones is just not what we do.”

Occasionally dubbed the Facebook phone, the INQ is a social-networking-centered mobile phone

So where’d the rumor start from? Well, a TechCrunch source mentioned that Facebook’s Joe Hewitt and Matthew Papakipos, two people with great knowledge of operating systems and software development were most likely secretly working on a Facebook-branded smartphone. Soon after that, an anonymous source told Silicon Alley Insider that Facebook would definitely be using Google’s Android operating system for the phone.

So should Facebook’s declaration make us believe that the company really isn’t working on a mobile phone? It’s really hard to say and it’s not like companies really admit they’re working on certain products long before they release them. That would spoil all the fun and thrill of unveiling them. In fact, Google did the exact same last year when it denied all of the media reports regarding its plans to build a mobile phone. Soon after the company introduced the Nexus One. Maybe Google said no because it didn’t have “plans” but it was already done with the handset? What strikes as odd is how little it took for Facebook to scoop the news out and actually deny it, when most companies usually take some time to comment regarding anything. If this was just a silly rumor, you’d have thought the social network site would’ve cared less about the whole situation.

There’s no way to tell for sure whether Facebook actually has plans for a device or not. But those two people mentioned before are definitely working on something. Since one of them was a chief architect of Firefox and the other a chief architect of Chrome OS and both have a lot of knowledge in the field, what are the chances that they’d team on project and their talent would be wasted on some pretty insignificant task? No, they’re definitely working on something and let’s hope we’ll find out quite soon what that something is.11

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