Believe It or Not, the Facebook Smartphone Is a Real Thing

| Analysis

I'm shaking my head. I'm literally shaking my head as I'm writing these very words. Why? Because the Facebook smartphone is apparently a real thing. 9to5Google reported that Facebook is all set to announce a Facebook-themed smartphone that's all about...well, Facebook.

Facebook Phone

TMO Artist's Rendition of Rumored Facebook Phone

You know, because what people say is that they love their iPhone or Android device, but what they really want is more Facebook. Allow me to proudly predict that consumers will greet this device with an enthusiastic yawn.

In any event, it's being made by HTC. There's no word yet on how this news is affecting glue futures. It supposedly looks like an iPhone 5 with a slightly larger screen, and it has a 1.5MHz CPU, 1GB of RAM, and 16GB of storage.

The best thing is that it's running a forked version of Android, which is hilarious. The two companies are bitter foes, with each working overtime to learn more about us so they can sell us to the highest bidding advertiser.

Which is no doubt why Facebook thinks it needs this thing. Just like Google and Apple, Facebook will be able to track users whereabouts, read their contacts, see who they call, etc., and Facebook can incorporate that data into their user profiles.

What's funny about the forked Android thing is that Facebook is leveraging Google's work on Android as a short cut to developing a device that Facebook will use to simultaneously compete with Google and deny Google the data that it sought by making Android in the first place. It will do so without actually paying Google for the favor, too.

Like I said, hilarious.

The question is who is going to care? Look, Facebook's mobile apps for Android and iOS are part of the reason people have taken to smartphones. The mobile Facebook experience is pretty darned good, even if Facebook has been slow to issue some updates on occasion.

I just don't see people wanting a "Facebook smartphone." I just don't. I never have. When these rumors first began surfacing, my assumption was that CEO Mark Zuckerberg was indeed playing around with a smartphone...

...but that was accompanied by the assumption that he'd come to his senses before actually releasing it. It looks like I was wrong about that.

I don't think I'll be wrong about its market reception.

Image made with help from Shutterstock.

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Ooh, a 1.5 Mhz processor. That’s slower than the original Macintosh.


It would be nice if you guys made it clear this is a rumor we are talking about. The Facebook event announcement says something like Welcome to Our new home on Android. Well the thing is if Facebook is coming out with a forked version of Android, excluding Google’s services, it can’t call the OS Android. Android is a marketing term controlled by Google and only those parties following Google’s rules (e.g. using its services) can use the name. I suppose they could just be borrowing the name for the announcement, but they can’t call the OS Android, anymore than Amazon can.

Further, if true, the move would be dumb because the likely hood of success is small. Meanwhile, it will piss off Apple and Microsoft who both are providing Facebook with system access to its operating systems, something being denied Google.

I could be wrong, but I am guessing Facebook will announce a new or several new Android apps.


Bryan, this is so bizarre.  What does FB have to gain from this?  Not more users.  Anyone who would buy a FB-branded phone is already a FB user.  Those same people who would buy a FB-branded phone might incrementally consume for FB services, but that only adds a trickle to FB’s bottom line.  With the costs of support and marketing I don’t see FB does anything more than break even with such a device.

Amr Tag

I actually think different.
The most downloaded app on android is Facebook. If Facebook managed to actually add in some cool features, cool enough to compete with android like Facebook integration, kinda like on iOs but deeper, and with a much lower price, this can actually be cool and can compete world-wide especially in developing counties where people mostly care about social networking in a smartphone (Facebook rather than twitter too)

Lee Dronick

Well speaking of glue and Facebook, see today’s Joy of Tech comic

Bosco (Brad Hutchings)

Forbes has some interesting speculation tying together this phone announcement with Andy Rubin switching sides. Not sure they have to “fork” Android to add value or be compelling. Delivering a pure Android experience with pre-installed Facebook widgets, hitting 3 form factors from 4” to phablet, being affordable, and keeping up with demand early would let them out-Google Google. There is a lot of momentum in the $300 no subsidy smart phone space right now.


Lee said: Well speaking of glue and Facebook, see today’s Joy of Tech comic

Many thanks, Lee. Well aimed.

In any event, it’s being made by HTC. There’s no word yet on how this news is affecting glue futures.

Appropriate OEM, that. Indeed, there’s a certain amount of ramifying stickiness associated with FB.

In fact, to pick up on Lee’s citation above, if tech companies were 1970’s - 80’s songs, FB would be ‘Stuck on You’.

Google would be ‘Every Breath You Take’.

MS would be ‘Right Place, Wrong Time’.

Apple would be ‘Bad’.

Samsung wouldn’t know what song to be, but they’d copy Apple’s, claim they had it first and then sue Apple over it.


Lee Dronick

Good one Wab95


wab95 - Of course Samsung would be Weird Al’s Fat


ctopher said: Of course Samsung would be Weird Al’s Fat

Love it, ctopher.

If I’d reached back further in time to include songs from the 1960’s, I’d have said that Samsung would be Disney’s Jungle Book song, ‘I wanna be like you’. No points for guessing who ‘you’ is.

Bosco (Brad Hutchings)

Can’t wait for RonMacGuy to demand accountability for Bryan’s “fragmenting Android” analysis. Turns out Facebook will be shipping a home screen app in the Google Play Store, perfectly within the bounds of acceptable Android behavior. #LookAtTheGameTape

Bryan Chaffin

To be fair, I admit when I’m wrong all the time. I was certainly wrong to put as much stock in these reports as I did, and all of the conclusions I reached are moot.

Bosco (Brad Hutchings)

That was a slap at RonMacGuy, not you Bryan. RMG would demand an official retraction, then hound you wherever you post. He would give you writing tips like, perhaps if you said it might be running a forked version of Android, then people would respect you. I only bring it up here to show how childish his crusade is.

But all that aside… Zuck declared their Home app to be the future of Facebook, set a ship date for many Android phones of April 12, and said they have no plans to do this on iOS. That’s gotta hurt, no?

Bryan Chaffin

Hurt? Please. smile Facebook’s hopes to increase its relevance doesn’t coincide with how I see Facebook.

Bosco (Brad Hutchings)

I have to quote me here from before the announcement, March 29 to be precise:

“Not sure they have to “fork” Android to add value or be compelling. Delivering a pure Android experience with pre-installed Facebook widgets, hitting 3 form factors from 4” to phablet, being affordable, and keeping up with demand early would let them out-Google Google.

Now, have a read of this article.

(Drops the mic.) You guys know where to reach me if you ever need Android insight.


Bosco, please stop bringing me up when I’m not even involved in the posting.  You totally miss the point.  Bryan can admit when he is wrong, just like John and Jeff and all other TMO writers.  You are the only one on TMO who does not.  I hardly give you writing tips, and I am hardly being childish.  Your inability to take responsibility for your outrageous predictions is a serious character flaw.  This is very obvious to everyone here.  The only time I have ever brought up respect is to tell you that if you could admit to being wrong as well as boast about being right, people will respect you more. When guests to TMO tell you “As with all your predictions you will be wrong again…” and “Bosco: I understand that you are an Android cheerleader and expect nothing less from your comments…” it is obvious that no one here respects you.  I am not the only one.  If you can be a bit less insulting, I am going to back off on addressing you, and I hope you are capable of doing the same to me.

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