Tech blog website AllThingsD reported this week that Facebook and a cell phone manufacturer are working on developing a “Facebook phone”.
Less than a year ago there were reports that a Facebook like smartphone incorporating most of Facebook’s social networking functions was on the way, and a number of media outlets confirmed that the social networking giant had been in communication with carriers and manufacturers about how to develop a Facebook branded phone. Industry buzz over a Facebook phone faded away as other smartphones incorporating Facebook buttons were announced this year, but talk is reviving with reports, including from AllThingsD citing unnamed sources, that Facebook will move forward with the idea.
AllThingsD reported yesterday that the new Facebook phone, which bears the name “Buffy” after the television character Buffy the Vampire Slayer, will be developed by HTC, the Taiwanese cell phone maker, and will operate on a version of Android, which Facebook has modified in order to integrate Facebook features and services.
Sources with knowledge of the project said Facebook also tweaked Android so that it will better support HTML5, which provides better support for multimedia.
A number of manufacturers have made smartphones with dedicated Facebook buttons including HTC’s Salsa and Chacha, released earlier this year. Facebook also considered Korea’s Samsung as a partner and just recently selected HTC to be its hardware partner in the venture. It will likely take between 12 and 18 months before the Facebook phones are available for consumers.
The “Buffy” Facebook phone will be different from the other devises already released because it does more than give the consumer access to Facebook, it will integrate the social networking technology of Facebook. The company’s CTO Brett Taylor is currently leading the Buffy project, which has been in the works under different leadership and with different scope over the last two years. A Facebook spokesman, while declining to speak specifically to the Buffy project explained its mobile approach in general:
“Our 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.”