Facebook puts smartphone ambitions back on its drawing board

Apple and Google didn't expect to become mobile juggernauts, but they saw the importance of it and positioned themselves appropriately. Facebook, a newly-formed public company is now rumored (again) to be designing a smartphone that'll put the social network at the center of your life (if it isn't already).

It's not the first time that we've heard of the "Facebook phone." The NYT revives the possibility of a Facebook phone with a report that says CEO Mark Zuckerberg is worried Facebook will not be able to withstand the tests of time without a phone:

Employees of Facebook and several engineers who have been sought out by recruiters there, as well as people briefed on Facebook's plans, say the company hopes to release its own smartphone by next year. These people spoke only on the condition of anonymity for fear of jeopardizing their employment or relationships with Facebook.

The company has already hired more than half a dozen former Apple software and hardware engineers who worked on the iPhone, and one who worked on the iPad, the employees and those briefed on the plans said.

Poaching talent from Apple is a good start for the company if Facebook wants to start learning how to build a proper phone. The NYT says Zuckerberg is pretty clueless about what it takes to build a phone, asking all sorts of trivial questions about chips and stuff.

Facebook had tried to engineer its own hardware, but quickly realized that it wasn't something feasible and that partnering up with other OEM (original equipment manufacturers) would yield the best results.

We're really hoping Facebook's top-secret "Buffy" smartphone project isn't a repeat of last year's HTC Status/Cha Cha or Motorola EX225. Those looked like BlackBerry rejects with Facebook splashed all over them. They were terrible and almost nobody bought them.

Facebook already has three great apps; now it's just a matter of piecing them all together to create a mobile OS that doesn't blow.


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