Another HTC/Facebook smartphone for 2013, unsure who the winner is here

According to Bloomberg's ever-so-informative sources, Facebook is working with HTC to create a Facebook smartphone for a 2013 release. It will supposedly feature a variation on the Android OS, and will obviously feature very heavy Facebook integration with both the hardware and the software.

This isn't the first time Facebook was led down this road. The HTC ChaCha (shown below) was also an HTC phone that featured a Facebook hardware button that interfaced with the ubiquitous social network. The ChaCha didn't do very well. It's unclear why Facebook or HTC are trying this again. For starters, Facebook already has solid integration with the current batch of smartphone hardware. It's hard to justify spending money on a hardware interface that will add any more significant integration than what is already out there. When faced with buying a new phone, consumers don't have to worry about which social networks are compatible with the devices in front of them. Now, they'll have an option to buy a phone that locks them in (as far as functionality goes) to one service. It doesn't make a lot of sense. One wonders if Facebook could be spending this kind of money improving on the mobile apps they already have. And there's a lot of room for improvement. 

It's still unclear who's leading this partnership. If HTC wants to rein in Facebook because they think a Facebook-branded phone will sell, that would make sense if they were right. On the other hand, Facebook, which doesn't currently monetize its mobile apps in any real way, has no incentive to buy into a phone that features their service. Its not like the people this phone is targeted at won't be using Facebook on other devices. 

This leads to an interesting possibility. Facebook could be using this phone, with its allegedly custom OS, to actually start monetizing their mobile. If they can find a way to seriously differentiate this experience from the experience that users already enjoy on other devices, Facebook could leverage their walled device by running ads in its software, bypassing the hurdles of sticking those ads in existing software. It's a long shot, but it's really the only thing that makes sense right now. Otherwise, there really is no winner in this partnership.

Source: Bloomberg

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17 Comments

bviktor said,

Still, it's a ******** of users. You can argue, but it's just a lot.

No questions about it, but....... Having 800 million or 500 million users make a huge difference in terms of potential revenues, company profittability etc..

This is going to be a failure... I just can't picture people buying a phone because Facebook is on it, when it's already on every other smartphone in existence... Just not gonna happen.

M_Lyons10 said,
This is going to be a failure... I just can't picture people buying a phone because Facebook is on it, when it's already on every other smartphone in existence... Just not gonna happen.

While I would tend to agree with you, it is also true that a lot of people fell in the FB IPO ambush.........

Fritzly said,

While I would tend to agree with you, it is also true that a lot of people fell in the FB IPO ambush.........

I would argue that that was different. People assumed that Facebook was doing well and as a result the stock offering would go through the roof. I feel bad that those people were swindled, and I hope that Facebook is held to the fire on that, but it's completely different.

In this case, Facebook is expecting people that are buying phones to pass over the multitude of phones that have Facebook on them for a phone that's main selling feature will be that it supports Facebook (Which isn't really a selling point when they all do that)... I just don't see it happening. Not to mention that integration of other services will likely be nonexistent or poor, Facebook's development team doesn't work on any of their other mobile apps and thus this isn't a strength for Facebook, and with WP out and about, integration has already been done far better than I'm sure will be accomplished here. And for more services...

I see your point, but I think that further drove home to some people that Facebook is a bit of a fad. Not that I expect them to go anywhere, but it's not something you buy hardware for. It is a service that's strength is supporting multiple hardware, not the other way around.

Win4Ever said,
This is going to be as successful as Microsoft Kin phone.
I totally forgot about that thing. Why did you have to ruin my day?

I believe Mark Zuckerberg said the reason he'd try this again is because he's afraid that if all his company ends up making is a website, they won't last long enough...

Wow.. this should get the DUMBEST business decision of the year award! I don't think words can express the stupidity of this decision.. I can think of a million ways to spend that money better! They should save themselves the humiliation of even THINKING about going down this path! What a shame..

unsure who the winner is here

HTC, as they'll rein in sales from gullible members of the public who are obsessed with Facebook and think a phone with Facebook branding all over it will be the best option for them.

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