Rumours have resurfaced that in February one of the world’s leading smartphone manufacturers, HTC, is due to unveil two Facebook-branded handsets. These will run a modified version of the Android operating system and be fully branded in line with Facebook’s look & feel (blue, grey & white).
Supposedly due to be announced at the 2011 Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, HTC have refused to comment on the speculation.
It seems surprising that Facebook would use Google’s Android OS given the fact that Microsoft has a stake in the company. Surely a ‘Facebook’ Windows 7 phone would ensure all shareholders are happy. Bing is also now integrated into Facebook and it is even less likely that Microsoft would like to encourage Facebook users to use Google search over Bing. That is exactly what having an Android-powered phone would achieve.
However, stranger things have happened and perhaps Facebook will indeed experiment with an Android phone to test the waters. Android is hot and in demand from consumers right now so less of a risk than gambling on a Windows 7 phone. Had they launched with a Microsoft-powered handset and it failed, Facebook would not be sure whether the concept of a Facebook phone failed or whether it was down to the OS installed.
The battle for market share of the smartphone market has only just started. 2011 is going to be a great year for the mobile phone consumer!
UPDATE: Facebook have now denied that a phone branded in their name will be released. They did however say that HTC have integrated with Facebook’s API in an ‘interesting’ way.