For what seems like months, there have been rumors of the Facebook phone. But up until now, it’s proved as elusive as a jackalope or Bigfoot.
But thanks in part to Android Police and 9to5Google, we now have a lot more information about the device, which Facebook is set to announce at a press event on Thursday. (If you want a better technical understanding of just how Facebook is skinning Android, definitely head over to the Android Police post.)
From what I can gather, Facebook is not creating a new fork of Android, which is what Amazon has done with the Kindle Fire. Instead, like Motorola and others, they are skinning Android specifically for their device. The phone, by HTC, was code-named the Myst. It’s now being released as the “First”, which fits in with HTC’s “The One” product line. The phone will be heavily skinned by Facebook and when you turn it on, Facebook is the first screen you see. The new version of Facebook, for this phone in particular, will rely heavily on Facebook’s social graph.
This will be Facebook’s first real foray into the consumer marketplace. With that comes a need for advertising to the general public, which isn’t something Facebook has ever really done. To compete in the over-saturated mobile market (not to mention the Android market itself), Facebook will have to really pony up some ad dollars to make an impact in the marketplace – or it will just be another phone.
Personally, I want Facebook to explain to me why I NEED a Facebook phone. I can’t for the life of me figure out why I want to be even more plugged into a social network. In fact, I’ve given serious thought to getting out. Facebook is no longer the go-to place for the younger generation. They’re on Twitter and Instagram, with Dad and Grandma hanging out on Facebook.
Aside from Facebook’s need to market this phone to consumers, there are some other interesting ??? to come out of this development. Facebook is currently a fantastic place to advertise your products (assuming your consumers are on the network) and it’s made a huge impact in how digital advertisers approach campaigns. What effect will a Facebook phone, with deeper integration of the social network, have on mobile marketing, which is still a fledgling effort?
Next, I have to wonder about Google. I love that Google’s Android system is so open, allowing developers to do a lot of what they can’t accomplish with iOS. But will that open-ness backfire on Google if Facebook’s phone can become a serious competitor?
Just some thoughts. We’ll keep you updated on the actual specs, retail info, and pricing of the phone after Thursday’s announcement.