Update: Facebook has denied rumors of the phone, but hints that HTC will heavily integrate the social network in Sense.
Here we go again: Rumors of a potential Facebook phone have emerged once more, this time from the London business site City A.M.
According to the site, which makes no mention of its sources, Taiwanese manufacturer HTC will unveil two Facebook phones next month at the Mobile World Congress event in Barcelona. They will supposedly be high-end Android phones customized to display Facebook messages and news feeds on their home screens. The phones will also sport Facebook branding and colors.
HTC is responsible for making high-end Android phones like the Nexus One, Droid Incredible, and MyTouch 4G, so it would make sense for Facebook to approach the company to develop its own phone. The news comes after reports from September that the company was planning on a phone. In an interview with TechCrunch, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg was vague on the company’s mobile plans:
At the end of the day, when people say “building a phone” they actually can mean very different things. Internally, the way we talk about our strategy, it’s like the opposite of that. Our whole strategy is not to build any specific device or integration or anything like that. Because we’re not trying to compete with Apple or the Droid or any other hardware manufacturer for that matter.
The company is clearly pursuing some sort of mobile strategy, but the notion of a dedicated Facebook phone remains difficult to swallow. One other possibility, especially since the current rumor centers around HTC’s involvement, is that we’ll see a new version of HTC’s Sense user interface for Android with heavy Facebook integration. The company announced its latest Sense revision last year at the Mobile World Congress, so it’s certainly due for an upgrade.
In the long run, that makes more sense for Facebook, since it could get prime real estate on many of HTC’s upcoming and current Android phones without worrying about building a device of its own.
Calling all developers: We want to write up your app for VentureBeat’s Mobile AppSpotlight! If you have an innovative mobile app that hasn’t been featured on VentureBeat yet, submit it for consideration right away. The Mobile App Spotlight is sponsored by The Intel AppUp developer program.