Facebook to unveil smartphone: report

Social network goes with HTC-made Android handset centred on its services

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Facebook to unveil smartphone: report The new phone is said to be centred on Facebook’s services. (Getty Images)
By  Stephen McBride Published  March 31, 2013

Facebook Inc is set to unveil its own Android smartphone on Thursday at a press event to be held at its Menlo Park headquarters, according to a blog published on The New York Times’ website.

The HTC-built phone will use onboard features, such as the camera, that are built around the social media giant’s services, said the blog, citing two people familiar with the project. Facebook would confirm only that the event would involve a “significant mobile-focused announcement”.

The insiders said the phone would display the registered user’s Facebook page when switched on, but the concept of a Facebook-centric phone has been tried before. Independent comms analyst Chetan Sharma said success of the phone would hinge on carrier support and HTC’s recent sales may not inspire much enthusiasm.

“Unless the phone is in front of the consumers in stores, it’s hard to see how it will gain traction,” said Sharma.

Other analysts point to the dominance of Samsung in the Android space and the lack of market gap for the Facebook product as obstacles to be overcome.

“There are lots of people who love Facebook, but I doubt if any of them feel like they need a more Facebook-centric experience on their phones,” said Ovum telecoms analyst Jan Dawson. “There isn’t anything obviously missing.”

Facebook is one of a number of companies seeking to capture a greater share of the expanding mobile advertising revenues that go along with the explosion in smartphone ownership. Research company eMarketer recently announced a projected profit surge for Twitter driven by mobile revenue and Yahoo’s acquisition of Summly also revealed its mobile-first strategy.

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