July 26, 2012 at 12:45 PM ET
One tech industry rumor so persistent there's no way it's totally NOT true is that there's a Facebook phone in the works, and that HTC is developing it. According to a Bloomberg report on Wednesday, the due date for this unconfirmed phone is now "mid-2013."
"BREAKING: Facebook is said to work with HTC on a mobile phone for mid-2013," read the message from the Bloomberg West video team — fittingly served up on Facebook. A similar post hit Twitter at the same time, along with a video containing more details.
"Sources with knowledge of the matter say the companies had intended to release the device as early as at the end of this year, but pushed back the timetable to give HTC more time to work on other products," said anchorperson Emily Chang, who then interviewed tech reporter Tom Giles about the scoop.
Giles didn't have a lot more to say on the subject of the new phone, however. Instead, he discussed mobile software developers from Apple who have gone over to Facebook to work on improving the Facebook iPhone app (infamously held in low regard by many).
Giles didn't connect the Apple folks to the Facebook phone project. He did suggest that, like previous reports, the Facebook phone's OS would likely be Android, but deeply redesigned to suit Facebook's needs.
This Android-based approach is similar to the way Amazon redesigned Android for its Kindle Fire tablet — and what Amazon very well may be doing for its own rumored smartphone.
HTC, who we've reached out to, is currently mum on the subject, and Facebook is sharing with reporters a version of the tune it's been singing for ages. It currently goes, "Our mobile strategy is simple: We think every mobile device is better if it is deeply social. 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."
(A couple of years back, it was, "... with operators, hardware manufacturers and app developers to bring Facebook to mobile phones in a variety of unique and exciting ways.")
Either way you slice it, two things are true:
1) Facebook needs to figure out this mobile thing.
2) Figuring out this mobile thing is really hard.
Facebook's tightest ally may be Apple, especially now that there's deep Facebook integration on Macs (with OS X Mountain Lion) and on iPads and iPhones that upgrade to iOS 6 this fall. But while Facebook use via iPhone may surge with the features, Facebook doesn't make money directly from that interaction, since the social network can't exactly serve up ads inside of Apple's own system interface.
The minute a Facebook phone is unleashed, Facebook's best bud will become its fiercest competitor. This is almost the definition of a catch-22.
So what's the real reason for the delay? "To give HTC more time to work on other products," like Bloomberg said? HTC has been struggling a bit, so it is possible that it needs to regain momentum in the mainstream Android market. But that's also a good argument for HTC to rush to get a Facebook phone in the market. It could be Facebook who is delaying, trying to get its strategy in order before it makes an irrevocable move, straight into Apple's crosshairs.
— via CNET