Rumors fly about possible Facebook phone

April 3, 2013 9:10:23 PM PDT
Rumors are flying about a major announcement planned for Thursday morning at Facebook's headquarters in Menlo Park. The company could unveil its own smartphone or something close to it.

Facebook won't confirm anything yet, but the internet is ablaze with purported leaked images and anonymous whisperings.

"Whenever you're building a product that involves other companies, it's much harder to keep things under wraps," TechCrunch writer Josh Constine said.

Constine says those "things" are likely a new smartphone made by HTC and a special version of Google's Android operating system that puts Facebook front and center -- in other words, a Facebook phone.

"It's supposed to be sort of a mid-level handset, sort of on par with an iPhone 4S, not like the brand new iPhones or SS Galaxies, but it's supposed to be cheaper and it might even be free," Constine said.

The blog 9to5Google shows mock-ups of a phone with Facebook status and messaging built right into the home screen. There's talk Facebook could offer it as an app.

"Maybe a bigger deal than the phone itself is this home screen replacement app," Constine said. "Basically this means that anybody with an Android phone would be able to download this Facebook home screen replacement app and replace the standard home screen on their phone."

Facebook may have to convince users and some skeptical experts.

"I seriously doubt that enough people love Facebook so much that they would go out of their way to find a Facebook-branded phone for them to use, but that's certainly what Facebook wants," CNET senior editor Jessica Dolcourt said.

Dolcourt says Facebook has everything to gain -- the more you use their services, the more ads they can show you.

"What they want to do is surface it, make it easy for you, so maybe instead of texting, you Facebook chat," she said.

One report suggests the new phone is called the HTC First -- as in "my first smartphone."


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