TechCrunch broke the news about Facebook working with hardware manufacturers to bring a new mobile phone to the market. While that does sound audacious at the outset, it makes sense considering that Facebook may not be really looking to challenge the smartphones but would instead be looking at a Microsoft Kin like device that is targeted at the teenagers.
Facebook may have denied the rumors completely. But what can you expect from Facebook in case the rumors turn out to be true. First and foremost, Facebook has to be pretty innovative about how they implement the software. Facebook’s customers are going to be teenagers who have the following four requirements from a phone – Calling, Texting, Internet browsing (Facebook mainly) and Gaming. The first two are no-brainers. And a Facebook integrated UI is expected too. But the last segment could be contentious. TechCrunch believes Facebook is working on its own OS that could be wrong. Facebook really cannot bring all their web success to the mobile phone all over again and the only way out is to integrate their offering with the Android marketplace. However, a Facebook phone will be incomplete without integrating the phone with the thousands of third party apps that are available on the website. In that case, the phone should come with a physical keyboard and not a touchscreen since the latter will require massive restructuring of all the thousands of applications on Facebook.
Now for affordability. The Facebook phone could be built on Android, but it needs to be noted that the teenage audience may be pretty frugal on data plans and hence the regular smartphone data plans may lead to a major flop show, much in the same lines of the Kin. Nevertheless, this is a carrier issue and we really cannot look deeper at this point.
But if anything can be said at the moment, it is just that this is an Android phone with a custom socially integrated UI and a physical keyboard.