Facebook has denied a report that it is planning its own phone. But it hasn’t denied that it is building a mobile OS.
TechCrunch reported Sunday that the social networking giant was developing software and working with an OEM on developing the hardware.
Facebook spokesman Jaime Schopflin told Reuters that there was no Facebook phone – but he admitted it was working on “deeper integrations with some manufacturers.”
“Our view is that almost all experiences would be better if they were social, so integrating deeply into existing platforms and operating systems is a good way to enable this,” he said.
It depends on what you mean by “integrating deeply.” Quoting a source close to the project, TechCrunch’s Michael Arringtonsaid Facebook “wants to integrate deeply into the contacts list and other core functions of the phone. It can only do that if it controls the operating system.”
Facebook has put two top developers on the mobile project – Joe Hewitt, who had helped develop the Firefox browser, and Matthew Papakipos, who was previously head of Google’s Chrome OS project. Arrington describes Papakipos as a “rockstar developer” who wouldn’t have walked out on Chrome unless there was something seriously compelling to drag him away. Like a Facebook phone or OS?
Arrington suggests that INQ may be the hardware partner, noting that Li Kashing-invested INQ was working with Spotify last year on a phone last year. Li has a 0.8% holding in Facebook through the Li Kashing Foundation.
The logic for a Facebook OS – or phone – is pretty compelling. It has more than 500 million users and its mobile app is the most popular on the iPhone and the second most popular on Android phones in the US, according to Neilsen.