We had to add “again” to the title or you might think that you we’re having deja vu, or that this was old news. In either case, you would actually be right! Rumors of a Facebook phone being in the works have been around since 2010.
Apparently the highly secretive initial effort failed. This led to a second effort where they were forced to admit that they did not have the in-house capability to bring a new phone to the market from hardware to software. The attempt is a joint effort with HTC, and is still under development. Today, their hiring patterns make it look like they are building an in-house smartphone hardware team again, for the second time.
Necessary and smart strategy
Facebook is just a “social media company” to many people. In fact, former Google Eric Schmidt was even more dismissive, calling them an “identity provider”. Both titles are a bit demeaning since Facebook is really a communications platform. It only makes sense that they would move into mobile.
Unfortunately for Facebook they are languishing in the mobile space right now and desperately need to make inroads quickly, for financial reasons at the very least. Currently all their revenue comes from the web based version of the site. Users on the mobile version aren’t clicking any links.
Chances of success
Facebook clearly has a big hill to climb with this project, but it does have a few good things going for it.
Facebook has changed how people communicate. For example, it is killing text messaging. But despite all the good news, big challenges lay ahead. Besides fierce competition in general, it faces these specific problems:
Until more details emerge, we won’t venture a guess on the chances of success or failure for the future Facebook phone. It seems doubtful that it will be able to go it alone, and some sort of partnership will be forged.
However we can say with certainty that the longer they take to release the phone, the more their chances of success drop dramatically as Apple and Google continue to grow their huge lead.