Facebook reignites smartphone plans after IPO woes
Published May 28 2012, 09:20 BST | By Andrew Laughlin
Speculation that Facebook
is preparing to launch an own-branded smartphone have resurfaced, as Mark Zuckerberg
's social network seeks to put a botched stock floatation
behind it. The New York Times
reported yesterday that employees of Facebook and several engineers who have been contacted by recruiters working on behalf of Facebook, say that the company's smartphone has been earmarked for release next year.
The paper said that Facebook has hired more than half a dozen former Apple software and hardware engineers, including people who worked on the iPhone and one person who worked on the iPad.
This is the third time that Facebook has attempted to make its own smartphone, as the company seeks to gain greater control over the mobile ecosystem.
In 2010, TechCunch
first reported Facebook's phone project, but said that it had collapsed after the firm realised the complications involved.
Last year, AllThingsD
reported that Facebook had entered a partnership with phone maker HTC to create a mobile handset, codenamed Buffy
. The New York Times
says that Facebook is now expanding the team working on Buffy, by hiring more experienced engineers, as well as exploring other smartphone projects.
Facebook declined to confirm or deny the project, but issued the following statement: "We're working across the entire mobile industry; with operators, hardware manufacturers, OS providers, and application developers."
But following Facebook's troubled flotation on the stock market earlier in the month, the creation of a smartphone would be a good way to assuage investor unease over the firm's future revenue generation prospects.
Zuckerberg, the founder and chief executive of Facebook, is said to be keen for his company to better exploit mobile, as over half of Americans on Facebook now access the site on a smartphone or tablet.
"Mark is worried that if he doesn't create a mobile phone in the near future that Facebook will simply become an app on other mobile platforms," an unnamed Facebook employee told The Times
This also follows the completion of Google's $12.5 billion acquisition of hardware maker Motorola Mobility last week
, enabling the search giant to create its own line of smartphones.
Facebook, which generated $16bn from its initial public offering, could follow Google in making a major acquisition of a hardware firm, including BlackBerry maker Research in Motion (valued at $6bn) a possible target, as well as the $11.8bn-valued HTC
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