Facebook and HTC are on the move to create the first Facebook smartphone, which is set to launch in the middle of next year.
According to unnamed sources who eagerly disclosed the supposedly confidential information, both companies originally made plans to launch the rumored handset by the end of this year. It was put on hold to rearrange the timetable for HTC to gain an extra time in developing other products.
In addition, Facebook reportedly brought together a pool of former Apple programmers to come up with a revised operating system to enhance its iPhone application.
Though over half of the 900 million Facebook users all over the world log-in to the social network through mobile handsets, not a bit of the total advertising sales of $3.15 billion originated from phone ads during the previous year.
Developing a social network-embedded Facebook phone could be a good strategy for founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg to entice vendors and ease concerns negatively affecting the company’s shares.
“Usage is shifting to mobile, and they have not been able to monetize mobile, to the extent that it’s a device you own and carry around with you at all times, and it ties into the Facebook experience, it will be beneficial. They could then put a lot of ads onto the platform,” commented Topeka Capital Markets analyst Victor Anthony.
Since its initial public offering (IPO) in May 17, shares of the popular social network has gone down as much as 23 percent due to company difficulties in earning sufficient cash from mobile advertisers.
A Facebook spokesperson said in a statement, “Our mobile strategy is simple: We think every mobile device is better if it is deeply social. We’re working across the entire mobile industry; with operators, hardware manufacturers, OS providers, and application developers to bring powerful social experiences to more people around the world.”
The rumored team of former Apple personnel appointed by Facebook for its mobile attempt includes Greg Novick, who aided in the development of the touchscreen user interface; Tim Omernick and Chris Tremblay, who both focused on software; and Scott Goodson, who handled the stock market application.
Two of Apple’s designer alumni who contributed to the creation of the iPhone and iPad software experience, Mike Matas and Kimon Tsinteris, co-founded digital publishing software Push Pop Press last year, which was also acquired by Facebook. Matas notably earned recognition for crafting the iPhone screen’s battery logo when charging.
Zuckerberg has notably changed preference from being a longtime BlackBerry user to Apple’s iPhone over the last few years.
Earlier this month, Zuckerberg has commented that it is a tough act for the company to take Facebook’s features into handsets, as the user experience is poles apart with desktop computers.
When asked about his current ultimate test in an interview at the Allen & Co. media conference in Idaho’s Sun Valley, the CEO said it is “the shift to mobile”.
Albeit the ongoing rumors about the company’s new handset, the New York Times had already officially reported in May about Facebook forming a team of ex-Apple engineers to develop a phone due for release next year. Another report by AllThingsD in November stated that a Facebook phone would be coming out from late 2012 and mid-2013.
HTC and Facebook had already joined forces when the Taiwanese smartphone maker started to sell “ChaCha”, an Android-based phone with a dedicated Facebook button for sharing music, photos and messages.
In a report by IDC, HTC’s global smartphone market share has declined to 4.8 percent during the first quarter from 8.9 percent same time last year. That clearly suggests it is struggling against bigger US competitors.
This year, HTC has reported decline in its shares for three successive quarters, showing a total fall of 43 percent.