This past weekend, rumors of a “Facebook phone” surfaced thanks to a post by Techcruch. The article, with no named sources, indicated that Facebook was working on a branded phone similar in vein to the Nexus One. Facebook PR countered the story by saying it was inaccurate, and that they weren’t building a phone.
The information presented in Facebook’s response isn’t specifically a denial of a branded phone, but they say they aren’t “building” a phone. This could easily put them in line with Google, which also denied building a phone but later released the Nexus One—which was built by HTC, had Google-specific software, and was sold directly by Google. Facebook could build the software, add Facebook branding, and simply have another company manufacture the device to fall in line with their response from the weekend.
If anything, a better similarity for what a Facebook phone would look like is the Garmin-ASUS Garminfone. Garmin baked their own GPS software and experience into a build of Android 1.6, while the phone was manufactured by ASUS. While that phone did not impress us, it did serve as a good example of how to brand a device that serves a unique purpose. The Garminfone was also subsidized and sold by T-Mobile.
It makes sense for Facebook to consider a branded phone. If the company wants to better compete in the mobile space outside of applications, a smart phone with deep Facebook integration could expand its presence and its brand. If the story is true, Facebook would do well to learn lessons from Google’s Nexus One—which ultimately failed because it lacked real carrier support.
Do you want to see a Facebook phone? Would you be interested in buying one? Let us know in the comments below.