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Is Facebook Working On a Smartphone? 160

Posted by samzenpus
from the phone-a-friend dept.
An anonymous reader writes "The New York Times reports that Facebook has resumed its stealthy efforts to create a smartphone, apparently to assert its position in an Internet increasingly accessed via mobile devices, and to counter products and moves made by major competitors Google, Apple, Microsoft, and Amazon. The Times reports that Mark Zuckerberg has gotten personally involved in the project, which has recently landed several iPhone/iPad engineers from Apple. Wired ran a similar story a month ago, reporting that Facebook has ramped up its "Buffy" code-named collaboration with HTC on a phone which will probably be Android-based, support HTML5 and include a large touchscreen and high-quality camera (for Instagram). Facebook won't confirm or deny these reports."
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Is Facebook Working On a Smartphone?

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  • Yes (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday May 28, 2012 @02:30PM (#40136369)

    At least it works on mine.

    • No (Score:5, Insightful)

      by MrEricSir (398214) on Monday May 28, 2012 @07:24PM (#40137993) Homepage

      You must not have an iPhone.

      • Re:No (Score:5, Informative)

        by Dusty101 (765661) on Monday May 28, 2012 @09:24PM (#40138599)

        Mod parent up. The Facebook iPhone app is terrible.

        • by thegarbz (1787294)

          Well the Facebook Android app would have to be the most popular 3 and a half star app I've ever seen. It's got more 1 star ratings than 4 star, and that's nearly half the amount of 5 star ratings.

          It's slow, buggy, crashes a lot, is feature poor, they change the interface constantly, and I've actually just given up on it. I use friend caster now. For my limited facebook functionality I am after on my phone I get everything I want to do done in half the time and on the first attempt too.

  • almost as interesting.
    yahoo has also a similar suite of applications. did similar collaboration too.

    (i'm just tired of the is fb making a phon!?!?!?!??!!? articles on the interwabs these days)

    • by Sir_Sri (199544) on Monday May 28, 2012 @03:00PM (#40136615)

      Yahoo has a much more diverse array of services though. Facebook basically has a platform API for making stuff that works on facebook. Yahoo has tie ins to e-mail (real e-mail), finances, travel shopping, internet search, maps, music players, TV translations, jobs personals etc. They do (and did) a hell of a lot more than facebook.

      I'm not really sure what facebook could do with a phone. They're a software on top of something company, google had to buy an operating system company to make android. I can't really see Facebook having a whole lot of traction making its own operating system to compete with Apple and Google. A Facebook branded phone sure, but who cares? You could put a facebook logo on a pair of speakers because they aren't in the 'music' business, I'm not sure that means much. They could make just an Android phone, again, why?

      I could see them wanting a developer phone, or developer tools, say a phone that can boot multiple versions of android (and Windows Phone 7/8), can emulate screen sizes etc. That could be a very interesting (and very lucrative) project, especially if you tie it to mobile services hosting (think amazon cloud), that works efficiently anywhere in the world. It's a decidedly developer product, but could generate revenue per app/user anywhere, and then the facebook 'app' is really just a demo. But trying to enter the consumer phone space because they have one icon of the 200 or so on my phone doesn't really seem like a great plan, and I can't seriously imagine anyone there thinking it's a great plan.

      I heard a rumour that they might look to buy out opera. It's probably a rumour, but opera is big in the mobile space. I guess that would give them a mobile browser... but why? I can see ways that facebook could use it's cash pile to make money on mobile, certainly buying opera could do that, but I'm not seeing a lot of ways facebook could make the facebook social network and privacy invasion service make money on mobile without ads. Which doesn't require apple engineers or a joint project with HTC.

      • by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Monday May 28, 2012 @03:37PM (#40136825) Journal
        It's hard to imagine Facebook wanting their own OS, when they could more easily follow the 'android with the manufacturer's crap UI customizations on top' route. (Or do the same with whatever they are calling the twitching corpse of Maemo these days)

        If(and it's kind of a big if) they did want their 'own' phone, rather than just shipping applications for other phones, I'd expect something along the lines of Amazon's effort. Minimal or nonexistent changes to the boring under-the-hood OS stuff, fully branded interface on top and a hardware layout suited to the dominant use cases desired by Facebook.

        I wouldn't hold my breath on the 'developer phone' concept. If you just need basic emulation of screen sizes and OS versions, the SDKs for the respective products will do that in software right from the comfort of your workstation. If you need nitty-gritty testing-of-fucked-up-OpenGLES-edge-cases-on-Android-2.3-devices-with-Mali400-GPUs, you don't just need "a developer phone" you need either a huge stack of the things, or some PC-sized device containing a frankenstein's monster of ARM SoCs and peripherals from the past five years of phone development up to the present...

        Given the economics of mass production, I suspect that 'developer phone' will continue to mean "the phone the developer owns" for small-timers, a stack of purchased or gifted by platform vendors handsets for the more serious players, along with emulator testing for more basic UI reflow and screen size stuff.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by rtfa-troll (1340807)

          It's hard to imagine Facebook wanting their own OS, when they could more easily follow the 'android with the manufacturer's crap UI customizations on top' route. (Or do the same with whatever they are calling the twitching corpse of Maemo these days)

          It wouldn't be hard for them to do both. Have their own OS which is an Android customization. Google has a weak license on Android, which leaves them open for robbery. Facebook can either make private branch of Android, or, if they are really clever, they can make a copyleft branch which will make it impossible for Google to incorporate back Facebook improvements whilst Facebook can still take Google ones and benefit from community involvement.

          This would leave Facebook in a good situation since they wo

        • by Sir_Sri (199544)

          I wasn't seriously suggesting a developer phone product as something they should do. I'm just trying to figure out what they *are* doing. That was the first idea that came into my head as something that could exist in support of, or in conjunction with some other software service that fits their existing skills base.

          Facebook has a giant pile of money, for all it matters they could buy a phone company or build their own. I'm just not seeing how hiring a bunch of engineers translates into facebooks usual b

      • Not to mention that there already is a Facebook phone. Information about it is right now buried underneath articles for the current story, but I saw it advertised a while ago by either HTC, LG or one of the other Asian smartphone makers. It basically was an Android with a UI designed to make updating and reading Facebook very easy.

        Not sure what Facebook could add to that effort, outside of more space for ads.

      • by petsounds (593538)

        Well, Facebook buying the Opera browser makes some sense. As Opera sends all page requests through their servers to speed up the user experience, Facebook would obviously love to data mine this browsing information when hooked up to a Facebook login. It would mean they can more effectively whore out your life to interested parties.

      • I'm not really sure what facebook could do with a phone.

        I could. If even 90% of the people or organizations you call would have their number listed in Facebook (of course, with whatever privacy controls are in place), then Facebook could disintermediate the dial-by-number and even the "dial-by-stale-contacts-list" - You could just say "Call Marie" and it would go and find out a) which Marie you wanted to call based on your network, and b) what her best number to reach is (assuming she's sharing that information with you).

        This would be a killer feature... not al

        • by psiclops (1011105)

          when i first added my facebook account to my android it imported all contacts who had shared their phone number with me.

          if i go into contacts and type the first few letters of their name(usually takes about 3 to get them to the top of selected list) then i can just hit call if i want to call them.

          i don't see how facebook could improve on this.

        • by Sir_Sri (199544)

          Again though, that's a 'single icon on my existing phone' sort of problem. It doesn't get them a whole lot in the way of a full featured phone. It gets them one feature they would be better to put on other peoples phones.

          It's also not a hardware problem.

  • focus (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday May 28, 2012 @02:33PM (#40136387)

    isn't that a sign of lack of focus? the same that afflicts google now?

    • Re:focus (Score:5, Insightful)

      by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Monday May 28, 2012 @03:52PM (#40136899) Journal

      isn't that a sign of lack of focus? the same that afflicts google now?

      Unfortunately, detecting 'lack of focus' is much trickier than just looking at number of products/number of product areas. You both need to consider the possibility that the efforts are part of the same company largely in name(The badge above the door just says who built it or bought it, not uncommon for some largely-financial entity to have their sticker on a herd of operationally-independent companies), and that the efforts in multiple areas are in some way strategic. You also have to consider, of course, the distinct possibility that the company is running around like a chicken with its head cut off, throwing shit at the wall to see what sticks because they don't know what else to do...

      In case of 'Facebook Phone', the optimists's reading would go something like this: Facebook already has a substantial investment(through its API, authentication services, and whatnot) in making it possible for 3rd parties to develop on its 'platform' so that it can more efficiently farm users. It also, because smartphones are a major and growing avenue for access to facebook, has an ongoing investment in developing high-quality phone UIs. A "Facebook Phone" project is really just a software project that is an outgrowth of their API/Auth/Payment efforts and their smartphone application efforts, along with some possible hardware spec tweaks(eg. camera, certain hard buttons to speed common facebook operations) and eventually paying an OEM to slap their sticker on it and get it out the door. Best case, it works. Worst case, most of the hard work can be immediately recycled into their existing 'platform' and 'smartphone app' development processes.

      Pessimist's reading: Team Zuck has just IPOed at a ridiculous P/E, and it's a known fact that an increasing percentage of their traffic is coming from smartphones that are a bit small to show ads, and for which nobody but Apple and the carriers are making any money. Everybody knows that MOBILE IS THE FUTURE!!!!1!~, so Facebook has to show that they still have it by starting a crash, cargo-cult, attempt to replicate the success of the iPhone, and will flail around for a while, burn some money, and end up hiring HTC/Samsung/the low bidder to puke up a generic Android device with a really shit UI skin and a hardware 'like' button...

      • by dc29A (636871) *

        and for which nobody but Apple and the carriers are making any money.

        Right, Samsung is losing a lot of money these days. Oh wait ...

    • by jeffmeden (135043)

      isn't that a sign of lack of focus? the same that afflicts google now?

      Not at all, the focus will be great, see they laid that out right here: "support HTML5 and include a large touchscreen and high-quality camera (for Instagram).". The whole no focus on Android phones thing was a temporary glitch, we swear. Won't happen again.

      Although you might consider it a design flaw that they are trying to improve the quality of instagram photos...

  • by csumpi (2258986) on Monday May 28, 2012 @02:34PM (#40136395)

    ...the Zuck will make it the only way to access facebook. He'll make another truck load of money selling 1 billion devices, and I'll be able to keep my kids off facebook by not buying them one. Everyone wins.

    • by PopeRatzo (965947) on Monday May 28, 2012 @06:40PM (#40137763) Homepage Journal

      .the Zuck will make it the only way to access facebook.

      Seriously, can anybody make a case that Facebook will not end up like Myspace?

      Unless they can somehow keep time from passing and people from innovating, Facebook will end up yesterday's news.

      Everybody's on the Internet (let's say for the sake of argument). Is the future really about this one social network? The idea of social networks is going to stick around, but there's just no way that one will become the everlasting social network. Somebody will say, "Why should I have to join one social network over another social network? Why shouldn't I have a social network aggregator that lets me keep in touch with friends no matter which network they are part of? Say, a "social network of social networks". Remember "chat"? Remember when everybody had their own little IM service? People aren't just going to say, "Facebook is network enough for me!".

      What if I could choose my own interface that would let me talk to people over whichever social network they happen to be on? What about a social network protocol, that allows for something like a Thunderbird of social networks? With it's own set of filters and controls for my private information. Why should I trust Facebook to give me the tools to protect my privacy when I can do it with some client? Why should Facebook be the one making money off of my very existence?

      I'm an idiot and I don't know anything about this stuff, but even a dope like me can easily foresee a time when Facebook is sitting on the ash heap of history. Will their purchase of a browser suddenly give them the thing they need to last forever? How about the purchase of a photo-sharing social network? Their willingness to overpay to such an extent for Instagram is proof that their time in the sun is almost finished. Hell, the fact that they went public and everyone yawned is proof that their time is about up.

      I don't use Facebook. I don't care about Facebook. I care about communicating on the Internet though, and Facebook has not reached the pinnacle of possibilities for Internet communications. But it will come, unless Facebook ends up somehow owning the very idea of a social network, which considering our effed up "intellectual property" laws is a distinct possibility. I like the idea of social networks on the Internet, but I don't like any of the ones out there. I should not have to choose between one and another based upon which of my friends belongs to which social network. I don't have to choose which set of websites I will visit, and the reason I don't is because HTML is an open standard. Social networks should not be proprietary if email is not proprietary.

      I'm betting whatever finally supplants Facebook stands a pretty good chance of being more like Thunderbird. Maybe open source. But standards-based.

      Facebook is so last decade.

      • by ranton (36917)

        Seriously, can anybody make a case that Facebook will not end up like Myspace?

        It is easy to make such a case. MySpace capped at a little over 100 million users, compared to Facebook's 800+ million. That means their lock-in is an order of magnitude larger than MySpace's was. MySpace also had both Friendster and Facebook as serious competitors during its own meteoric rise, while today there is no viable alternative to Facebook. The massive flop of Google+ only cements the real possibility that Facebook is here to stay. (obviously this is only me making a case, I have no idea what

      • by Aqualung812 (959532) on Monday May 28, 2012 @09:32PM (#40138633)

        Remember "chat"? Remember when everybody had their own little IM service?

        Remember? We're still there. What address do I give you exactly so you can chat with me? There is still the disclaimer "On XX service" attached to anything I'd exchange with you.

        Email works regardless if I'm on Notes and you're on Pine and we CC someone on Exchange, without any notion of what the back end or client is. Chat still isn't there.

      • by gl4ss (559668)

        yes. my mom and your mom never knew what myspace was. they know facebook.

  • The real question: (Score:4, Interesting)

    by AdrianKemp (1988748) on Monday May 28, 2012 @02:35PM (#40136407)

    Do they need to work on it at all?

    I'm going to go out on a limb here and put two possible scenarios out there:

    1) Facebook makes a phone, and millions of Facebook drones buy it for no reason other than the fact that it's "the Facebook phone"

    2) Facebook makes a phone, and millions of Facebook drones buy it because it's the Facebook phone, another few thousand buy it because it's legitimately better hardware.

    Now sure, I'm oversimplifying here... but I really feel like they would be just as far ahead to have Samsung rebrand an S III with their logo on it and call it a day. So to that end, I have my doubts about them working on it.

    (also, what the hell is with the autocorrection of facebook to Facebook...)

    • by swb (14022) on Monday May 28, 2012 @03:04PM (#40136653)

      My guess is that they are targeting the low-end of the market that has a high-end feature phone now but can't afford a traditional smartphone. The kind with a texting keyboard, weak camera and limited internet access via carrier apps.

      My guess is the idea is to provide a phone optimized for Facebook and picture taking but with low end enough specs that it can be sold very cheaply.

      My guess is that there are a lot of people at this end of the market who use Facebook on PCs and who see a smartphone's primary purpose as being for Facebook or social media and who would take hardware more comparable to a real smartphone even if most of what it did well was Facebook.

      Done well, Facebook could create an ecosystem of Facebook apps exclusive to this platform and along with their data mining sell the phones at cost and actually make money on the larger project.

      Done poorly, it's a train wreck. Either way, I don't see any kind of Facebook phone taking Apple or Android's place.

      • Yeah, if you're right and they get the carriers on board it could be a pretty big boon for facebook.

        I guess after the... what was that microsoft phone called... the Kin? I don't really see that sort of phone as a viable strategy; I do recall though that most of it's death was due to terrible plans more than the phone itself.

        • by slazzy (864185)
          Carriers sometimes have a "facebook only" internet plan for a discounted price. That type of thing could be a big money maker for both parties.
          • by ranton (36917)

            I would have guessed that someone who uses their smart phone only for Facebook would use more bandwidth than your average smartphone user. But if these facebook only internet plans actually exist, it seems I am wrong.

      • by rvw (755107)

        Done well, Facebook could create an ecosystem of Facebook apps exclusive to this platform and along with their data mining sell the phones at cost and actually make money on the larger project.

        Done poorly, it's a train wreck. Either way, I don't see any kind of Facebook phone taking Apple or Android's place.

        They could do it the Kindle tablet way. Like Amazon, provide a platform with disk space and backup in the cloud, voip services, etc. If they offer a complete eco-system, which makes it easier and cheaper for the user, it could work.

        • They could do it the Kindle tablet way, like Amazon - sell only the shit models outside the US, at prices 80% higher.

          FTFY.

      • by tgibbs (83782)

        This seems like a potential niche. However, Android based smartphones are now available pretty much free with a contract. What's keeping out potential low-end buyers is not the cost of the phone, but the cost of the contract. One possibility would be a phone that updates your Facebook feed only when WiFi is available, and otherwise functions as a generic low-end phone

      • by neorush (1103917)
        I think this niche is really already filled though. What you describe this is exactly why I use one of these [amazon.com]. Since I do not have cell service at my home (and I live in NY state) it is difficult for me to justify a $100 / month phone. Especially since about the only time I'm not near wifi is when I'm driving between home / work. I'm not sure there is a market for what you are describing, so I hope they have a different plan.
      • by sootman (158191)

        > My guess is that they are targeting the low-end of
        > the market that has a high-end feature phone now
        > but can't afford a traditional smartphone.

        Both the iPhone 3GS and many Android phones are free, and the iPhone 4 and many, many more Androids are $99. I don't think it's the price of smartphones that's keeping people away, it's the mandatory $180/yr data plans.

  • by WrongSizeGlass (838941) on Monday May 28, 2012 @02:36PM (#40136417)
    If Facebook is working on a phone they will learn what Google learned when they released their first phone: customers expect and demand customer support. Facebook is not prepared to provide customer support any more than Google was.
    • by gl4ss (559668)

      that's why they're letting phone manufacturers make the phones and charge them with money and sw r&d for the privilege of adding a quick launch button for the suite.

      another angle is working with operators to exempt their site from data quotas.

      neither is particularly fresh.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      I'm still rockin my Nexus One. I'd get an updated one if HTC made it, I prefer their phones to Samsung's. I'm not saying I'd pay a premium for a facebook branded phone, and I don't use the site, but I'd be curious to see the specs before I ruled it out.

  • by pointyhat (2649443) on Monday May 28, 2012 @02:36PM (#40136419)
    First I tried Apple and it didn't let me move my music around, then I tried Android and it didn't let me upgrade, then I tried Windows Phone and it went flat in a day, now I can try Facebook and it won't let me keep my privacy. I wish I still had my old Nokia 3310 now...
    • by gl4ss (559668)

      just buy a nokia 303..

      • just buy a nokia 303..

        It's got a touch screen. A phone with a keyboard and a touch screen is a big WTF in my mind.

        • by gl4ss (559668)

          just buy a nokia 303..

          It's got a touch screen. A phone with a keyboard and a touch screen is a big WTF in my mind.

          yeah but 101 has just dualband gsm. vs. 303's quad gsm + pentaband 3.5g.

          (isn't it stupid how you have to dive into options in slashdot nowdays to turn off karma bonus?)

        • by exomondo (1725132)

          It's got a touch screen. A phone with a keyboard and a touch screen is a big WTF in my mind.

          Why? Your computer probably has a keyboard and a mouse.

  • Do Not Want (Score:4, Insightful)

    by FSWKU (551325) on Monday May 28, 2012 @02:37PM (#40136429)
    I'd steer clear of any smartphone that FB had a hand in making. I have a FB account, but I also have my PC setup in such a way that when I log out, FB gets NOTHING from me. With a FacePhone(tm), I'm sure there would be all kinds of things embedded into it that track everything you do so they can get better information for the market trolls (their real customers).

    Google is at least transparent with the information the stock flavors of Android have access to, and make it (relatively) easy to keep your information as exactly that - your information. The FB version I'm sure would be full of trackers that you can't turn off or uninstall, because that would make it "just another phone" and not a FacePhone(tm).

    Come to think of it, it will probably sell like crazy to the idiots who get a kick out of broadcasting every excruciatingly annoying detail of their empty lives to everyone on the Internet...
  • Privacy... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by doug141 (863552) on Monday May 28, 2012 @02:38PM (#40136431)
    I wonder what THAT license agreement is going to look like...
    • Re:Privacy... (Score:4, Informative)

      by WrongSizeGlass (838941) on Monday May 28, 2012 @02:44PM (#40136483)

      I wonder what THAT license agreement is going to look like...

      "Click 'OK' to let us do what we want or you'll never be able to access Facebook from your phone. Please don't ask about the details because frankly, you don't want to know."

      • by vlm (69642)

        Please don't ask about the details because frankly, you don't want to know.

        Coming soon to late night TV, infomercials for combination sausage maker and facebook phone (order now for a free solyent green flavor pack!)

    • by tlambert (566799) on Monday May 28, 2012 @03:59PM (#40136935)

      You know, opt you in, when you opt out, recategorize it, and since it's a new category, opt you in to the new category by default; wash, rinse, repeat.

      "By default, you are opted in to share your GPS information; you are permitted to opt out after you realize we are collecting it."

      "We now have a new category of information which we have opted you in to share by default called 'location'; you are permitted to opt out after you realize we are collecting it."

      "We now have a new category of information which we have opted you in to share by default called 'position'; you are permitted to opt out after you realize we are collecting it."

      "We now have a category of information which we have opted you in to share by default called 'venue'; you are permitted to opt out after you realize we are collecting it."

      "We now have a category of information which we have opted you in to share by default called 'place'; you are permitted to opt out after you realize we are collecting it."

      "We now have a category of information which we have opted you in to share by default called 'travelogue'; you are permitted to opt out after you realize we are collecting it."

      "We now have a category of information which we have opted you in to share by default called 'iternarary'; you are permitted to opt out after you realize we are collecting it."

      "We now have a category of information which we have opted you in to share by default called 'orienteering'; you are permitted to opt out after you realize we are collecting it."

      "We now have a category of information which we have opted you in to share by default called '10-20'; you are permitted to opt out after you realize we are collecting it."

      "We now have a category of information which we have opted you in to share by default called 'safety monitoring'; you are permitted to opt out after you realize we are collecting it." ...

      -- Terry

  • by rodrigoandrade (713371) on Monday May 28, 2012 @02:42PM (#40136471)

    In an age of quickly evolving smartphones, where today's hottest releases are soon forgotten, Facebook is blowing IPO money on this.

    Does anyone even remember the HTC ChaCha??

  • Why? Why? Why? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by xtal (49134) on Monday May 28, 2012 @02:44PM (#40136489)

    This makes as much sense as Facebook announcing they're going to build a PC.

    Why on earth would you do such a thing?

    Just an app? Facebook IS an app!

    A tip for anyone from facebook who's watching - if you want to get into hardware, at least go make a enterprise applicance for people wanting to organize their companies - privately - around social media. Throw in some storage and then negotiate the tie-ins to the bigger infrastructure to keep the advertisers happy.

    But a phone? Seriously?

    • by vlm (69642)

      A tip for anyone from facebook who's watching - if you want to get into hardware

      I could see them selling a "firewall-ish" inline device for retail business owners that squirts out some psuedo-realtime feed of the customers using the complimentary wifi. Maybe spam people using your wifi on facebook? Seems terribly obvious?

      The landing page makes you log into FB for free access which also at least temporarily auto-friend / auto-follows whoever is paying for the wifi?

      Or a different kind of firewall for businesses that deep inspects each connection to log exactly what each user is reading

    • Because they can . . . ?

      Jack up the stock price . . . ? "Our FacePhone will be bigger than that puny iPhone!!! Buy our stock now, and get rich like Apple stockholders did!"

      Wanting to own the content AND the device it is used on . . . ?

      The FacePhone will look nice with the telephone carrier that they plan to buy next . . . ?

      They have no better idea what to do with all that IPO cash . . . ?

    • Ahem. (puts on curmudgeon hat). That's better.

      I remember when people started to have trouble differentiating between the Internet and the WWW, and nerds got their knickers in a twist pointing out the WWW was just a subset (hey, what about Usenet? What about FTP?)

      Now we can enter a brave new kingdom where no one knows the difference between Facebook and the WWW.

      Anyway, curmudgeon aside, I don't get all bent out of shape by a Facebook phone because I don't use Facebook, and if you don't take one seriously,

    • by ceoyoyo (59147)

      It's not a bad idea. Facebook desperately needs to grow their profits. They're an advertising company, just like Google. So all the arguments for Google making a phone also apply to Facebook, except that in Facebook's case, Google has already done all the hard work (designing the OS and getting the manufacturers to build compatible phones) and FB basically just has to modify the ad server address and slap their logo on it.

    • by Sloppy (14984)

      This makes as much sense as Facebook announcing they're going to build a PC.

      Actually, when you put it that way, as strange as it seems, it sounds less insane. The phone market is already twisted beyond belief; many people buy their handheld PCs from their ISPs. Why not buy phones from an advertising middleman .. or from a cement mixing company or from a haberdasher or from religious iconography and spell component shop? Those are some bizarre and senseless ideas, I'll admit, yet they are no more bizarre

  • by 93 Escort Wagon (326346) on Monday May 28, 2012 @02:45PM (#40136501)

    In anyone buying a Facebook-branded phone, I mean. I can understand why Facebook might want to offer their own phone - a lot of people use their mobile app on iOS and Android, and yet Facebook doesn't have carte blanche access to that user's personal information and habits.

    But Facebook, popular as it is, only does a few things - and the mobile app already handles those functions reasonably well. It's hard to see them offering a compelling reason to pick up a Facebook-branded phone. I'm sure some Slashdotters will smugly refer to "sheeple" and "mindless Facebook drones"; but in reality it's unlikely there are enough of those to make this idea a commercial success.

    • by vlm (69642)

      the mobile app already handles those functions reasonably well

      My wife says it crashes all the time and needs to be upgraded all the time, on iOS. You wouldn't think a simple viewer would be this hard to run, but...

      • by gmhowell (26755)

        Your wife bitches too much. Facebook for iOS (unfortunately) doesn't update nearly as often as it could. Far less than plenty of other programs I use. It does tend to get horked up from time to time. I prefer to avoid it unless I'm mid conversation while AFK.

  • by Anonymous Coward
    Learn how to create an Android/iOS app or mobile interface that isn't fucking horrendous, and move on and up from there?
  • I read the summary title as "is anyone able to use Facebook on a smartphone?". Now if only the bank encouraged napping...
    • by Anonymous Coward

      You're not alone. I have had a lot of trouble using the facebook for android app.

  • by vlm (69642) on Monday May 28, 2012 @02:51PM (#40136535)

    Misleading article.

    Facebook has resumed its stealthy efforts to create a smartphone

    OK so they're writing OS code, talking to RF designers about antenna design, selecting the appropriate display technology/hardware, designing yet another hopefully non-patent infringing on-screen keyboard.

    Now compare that to:

    collaboration with HTC on a phone which will probably be Android-based

    Oh they're just picking a winner and slapping their name on it. Not creating a phone at all.

    Its the difference between inventing a completely new clothing technology like "the tee shirt" and calling it "the facebook shirt" vs taking a tee shirt off the rack, silk screening the FB logo on it, and calling that "the facebook tee shirt". I believe my wife has a "facebook pen" not sure how she obtained that, anyway FB merely silk screened their logo on an existing pen, they did not invent the technology of the ballpoint pen. Another way to look at it is "creating a baby" means taking pre-natal vitamins for nine months and eventually squirting out a genetically similar copy of mom (more or less), "creating a baby" does not mean the process of legally changing an adopted babies name.

    Frankly if my wife wants a "facebook" phone the best solution is to pick out the best phone, then purchase a FB sticker and paste it onto the back.

    • Well, it depends on what they eventually come up.

      Remember that HTC builds a lot of phones that don't have the name "HTC" on them. So if Facebook gives them a list of specs and HTC builds a phone to those specifications, one could say that Facebook "created" a smartphone.

      Of course, if Facebook says, "Take the HTC One and stick a Facebook button on it which launches our app," then I agree with you wholeheartedly.

  • by Lev13than (581686) on Monday May 28, 2012 @02:53PM (#40136543) Homepage

    Well, Facebook could just go out and pick up RIMM for the price of six photo apps (give or take - there may be another 1/2 app in premiums). However, they probably wouldn't have the slightest idea what to with a profitable company that generates $18B in revenue every year.

    • You know the actual company name is RIM.... it's even shorter than their ticker so using it saves time and has the added effect of making you look like less of a douche.
  • by gelfling (6534) on Monday May 28, 2012 @02:53PM (#40136545) Homepage Journal

    The one where they build it w/o any customer feedback and stuff it full of things that no one wants and no one can easily work or use. Then publish no recognizable upgrade plan or strategy to move forward. Last but not least don't have any customer service or tech support apart from simply telling callers that it's not their problem but, for a small annual subscription they'd be happy to add your name to the email list of sales initiatives.

  • I'm just waiting (Score:3, Interesting)

    by MsWhich (2640815) on Monday May 28, 2012 @02:54PM (#40136555) Homepage

    for the FaceHouse. Automatically "checks you in" when you walk through the front door. Updates your Timeline with a graph of your daily shower times, for easy comparison with your friends. Knows exactly what you stock your fridge and pantry with so that it can appropriately target fridge-front ads at your specific buying habits. Senses when you've been sitting at your computer for over two hours playing a game and calls the Facebook-sponsored pizza place for you to have a pizza delivered. (As specified in the Snack Delivery settings section of your Preferences. Default reset to Maximum Delivery Mode as of March; users can of course change it back if they manage to see this notice, find the settings dialog, and then check the appropriate boxes three separate times so that Facebook knows they're really sure.)

    And of course everyone will want a FaceHouse. I mean, why wouldn't you? Do you have something to hide?

  • TL;DR - Don't care.
  • by MobileTatsu-NJG (946591) on Monday May 28, 2012 @03:08PM (#40136673)

    Is Facebook Working On a Smartphone?

    I seriously doubt I'm the only person in here that read this headline and thought it was another complaint about how shitty their iOS app is. Heh.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    FB fone:

    stops working randomly
    unable to access uploaded photos older than a couple months
    intemittent chat/txting/SMS service
    randomly requests userid/SIM re-insertion to resume service
    subject to employer examination

    yea, i'd hit that!
     

  • Their long term survival is at stake. Their whole business model is based on showing people ads, and being the default provider of social networking services to 1 billion people. As more and more people go mobile (to the iPhone where Twitter is the default, or Android, where G+ is the default), both the ads and the user base might start disappearing.

    Here's another prediction (and you've read it here first): within 2 years FB will own Bing. The only high margin way to show ads on the web is on a search engin

  • Lost potential (Score:5, Insightful)

    by michaelmalak (91262) <michael@michaelmalak.com> on Monday May 28, 2012 @03:18PM (#40136727) Homepage

    There are a lot of things Facebook could be doing to increase revenue. Building a smart phone is not one of them. Facebook is reminding me of Microsoft: some early standing on the shoulders of giants and good timing on being second to market [wikipedia.org], then total bust on later creativity.

    Facebook has identified the lack of screen real estate on mobile devices as limiting their revenue growth. So their solution is to come out with their own phone with a larger screen? This reminds me of Microsoft's solution to Google's competition by coming out with Bing. I dunno, maybe this lack of creativity comes from the constraints of being a public company, but nevertheless it's a lack of creativity.

    Facebook should embrace the smartphone rather than fight it. Along with limited screen real estate comes continuous connectivity and more frequent interaction. Facebook should improve its ad-serving algorithm and present users with one good ad at a time instead of a panoply of irrelevant ads. Here are some ideas for you Facebook execs out there:

    1. Nice idea to make a default Facebook page for every Wikipedia entry. But they're not only all dead, they're also all locked! Why not create an automatic discussion group out of every one of those pages instead of waiting for a masochist to claim ownership of it? Then people would be more inclined to Like those pages/groups instead of ignoring them. And then Facebook would be able to create an even better profile on each user.

    2. When there is a quotation on a Facebook group dedicated to an author, how about an Amazon affiliate link to buy the book from whence it came?

    3. Expanding on #1 above, how about a DMOZ-style human-edited directory of Facebook interest pages? User interests could be determined by which portion of the DMOZ tree the user focuses on, as well as of course also encouraging users to express their interests by joining additional groups.

    4. Buy Yelp! or one of the other city guides. Facebook needs to not only know more about its users to serve more relevant ads, it needs to know what its users' desires are when they have them and are actually searching (the advantage Google has over Facebook -- e.g. GM and Facebook didn't know when users were actually in the market for a car).

    5. Allow advertisers to target fans of any given group, not just the groups/pages they own! Extending that, allow advertisers to select whether to have their ads displayed when users are actually on that group page.

    In short, Facebook needs to think, "I have room for one ad; what is the one ad I will show this user right now?" I remember Facebook used to show only one or two ads at a time. Now they show five or six. More of the same. Lack of creativity.

    • Facebook should improve its ad-serving algorithm and present users with one good ad at a time instead of a panoply of irrelevant ads.

      I would like to believe that it is impossible for facebook to do that. I think targeted marketing is just snake oil being sold to snake oil salesmen. I think that whatever success facebook has had with "targeted" ads so far is nothing more than a manifestation of regression to the mean. [wikipedia.org] In other words - facebook ads have worked reasonably well because facebook is new, not because all that of demographic information makes a substantial difference in the effectiveness of advertising. People like new stu

    • These ideas all sound viable for Facebook to try. On the other hand, they would fuck up the internet even more than my worst nightmares can conjure.
  • They're working on a mobile data miner.
    • by faedle (114018)

      Working on?

      Install the Android app and just watch how much data leaks out to Facebook. Google at least requires me to opt-in to Latitude: Facebook sends "fine" location data regardless of whether or not I want it to.

      To the point that the Facebook app will crash if installed on a device with no GPS receiver (say, for example, a rooted Nook Color).

  • If they are actually looking into their own phone platform I think this would pretty much shake any remaining confidence investors have in Facebook and cause the stock to tank.

    Microsoft is having significant trouble creating a competitive phone to iPhone/Android, who in their right mind thinks Facebook, with absolutely no physical real world presence, would be able to create their own phone platform? All they could possibly do is re-skin Android with embedded Facebook services, not like they are going to m

  • Beginning of the end for Facebook.

  • by Cutting_Crew (708624) on Monday May 28, 2012 @04:46PM (#40137225)
    a phone that is Yahooed or even a phone that is verizoned. I want a phone. If i want to put facebook, yahoo, verizon stuff on my phone then I will do it. I dont see why companies are trying to come out with their own versions of phones that are supposed to be agnostic. We dont need any more walled gardens.
  • by boast (1227952)
    So the phoronix article that said the phone will be linux was a lie?!
  • by Anonymous Coward
    that the Facebook phone won't let me disable GPS and/or any kind of internet connection and the camera takes a photo every ten seconds and uploads it to Facebook.
  • I'm sure it works on at least one smartphone out there. Just never seems to work too well on mine, and it's not a cheapo one either (Motorola Photon). You would think they would work on getting it to work well on other phones before starting to build their own phone.

  • Not pushing android, but its there, and its for the most part an open platform.. Just develop some sort of new 'interface' for it like some of the phone makers have done, ( and some apps ) instead of spending the money on developing an entire new device/OS.

    I understand why they don't want just an app-suite as it doesn't give them the ad exposure they want. But then again, if they start pushing ads down our throats, i bet people wont want their phone anyway.

  • They already had their own Eurovision Song Contest entry. Unfortunately they had to remove the word "Facebook". If you look for it, you'll find 2 versions, one with the name being replaced.

    Actually given the current status it would be stupid for Facebook to do anything, people already do stuff for them for free. Just wait till someone else brings out a Facebook-Phone.

  • Well, I ditched my HTC when Galaxy IIs came out. I loved the phone except.....could not get rid of facebook app without rooting the phone. So, switched to Samsung and rooted the HTC and gave it to the Ms. Facebook options chain started trading today. STock is down almost 5% already. There will be a huge scramble to produce a "plan", and I'm sorry a crappy app for a crappy service tied to a really cheesy brand is not going to save the farm here.
  • So Facebook is going to buy Opera and then build a phone? These both seem like desperate moves to stay relevant and even then I don't know if I'd call either of those ideas *good*. Why not focus on making a mobile app that doesn't suck first? All the news around Facebook lately seems to revolve around them realizing they need to have some sort of future plan to remain profitable, relevant, and grow at the same time. And it's like they're just realizing this newfangled mobile thing is going to take off.

    • Reminds me of good ol' AOL.

      Unprofitable core business, let's buy a web browser (Netscape).

      As for slapping your brand all over a pre-existing smartphone OS... not sure what the point is there?

      Sam

Some programming languages manage to absorb change, but withstand progress. -- Epigrams in Programming, ACM SIGPLAN Sept. 1982

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