Facebook, do you really need to attack Russia? (Yes, this is a Facebook Phone post)

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It’s 1941.

Nazi Germany controls basically all of Europe, big chunks of Africa. Its soldiers and military machine are large and in charge and have not yet been seriously challenged. So what does genius Hitler do? He attacks Soviet Russia, a country many times its size, much more populous, and with strong, rich allies.

Mark Zuckerberg, are you listening?

Facebook is massive in social, the undisputed heavyweight champ, the global leader. But as its userbase transitions to a mostly-mobile world, its existence depends more than ever on the kindness of strangers … big swinging Micks like Google, Apple, and Samsung, who own the mobile space.

That’s presumably why the world’s largest social network wants its own phone platform. The company has been hinting at it for some time. And now Bloomberg is saying that Facebook is working with HTC to release a Facebook-centric phone by mid-2013.

This is baiting the tiger. Rattling the cage. Hitting the bee’s nest with a baseball bat.

Don’t get me wrong. I’d really LOVE to see what Facebook would make of a modern phone with social baked right into the core — a device that takes the phone back to its roots as a communicator.

(Imagine that, phones used for … actually … connecting … to … people.)

But really, Facebook. How do you think Apple is going to feel about this (after they stop laughing, I mean)? As we all know from the fruitful company’s longish acrimonious history, it does not take well to competition from former partners, or former friends. Ask Adobe. Ask Google.

Well, yes, do ask Google.

Google will just LOVE it when you take the main codebase of Android, fork it and fork them at the same time, then pull an Amazon on the main mobile open-source codebase in existence. Google’s mission in plus-life right now is to beat you, eat you, and spit out the scraps … do you really want to throw extra gasoline on that TNT?

And then the rumored partner: HTC. HTC?!?

Really, Facebook? The company that is just-barely-clinging-with-all-its-might to FIFTH position in the worldwide smartphone market, with a whopping sub-five percent market share? Is this the company that will make the Facebook phone a roaring commercial success?

I admit it: I am not as smart as the geniuses running Facebook. It is entirely possible that they see something I don’t. (And that Devindra Hardawar doesn’t, and Henry Blodget doesn’t, and Alexia Tsotsis doesn’t, and Dan Costa doesn’t, and Billy Gallagher doesn’t … I could go on for a while here.)

But let’s just posit the admittedly-difficult-to-believe proposition that Facebook is smarter than the press. (Work with me here.)

I just don’t see a path for the company to win.

A Facebook phone with HTC is not going to win in terms of market share. It is just not going to beat the installed base and furious innovation rates and amazing technical and design prowess currently leading the mobile market. Not. Going. To. Happen.

And if a Facebook phone that launches doesn’t fizzle on the pad (let’s be optimistic), and wins, let’s say, two percent global market share — it is, after all, launching with HTC, which only owns five percent with all of its phones — it’s simply going to poke giant Gulliver in his fat buttocks with a cheap little plastic toy Lilliputian spear.

And that’s going to make it much less likely those giants will do anything to help Facebook win on mobile in the 98 percent of the market they don’t control.

Am I wrong?