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  (Source: Facebook Mobile)
But a Facebook-branded smartphone is definitely a possibility

Yesterday, TechCrunch broke the news that Facebook was secretly building its own smartphone, or at least developing a deeply integrated OS for a smartphone. 

In a quick follow-upCNET asked the social media company for comment and received this in return; "Facebook is not building a phone," a Facebook spokesperson told CNET. "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."

But, it appears that the "Facebook phone" is still a possible reality, in the same way that the Nexus One was "the Google phone." Google had a huge say in the design and specifications of the phone, while the actual building was done by a third-party manufacturer (HTC).  It makes much more sense for Facebook to go this route, developing an Android-based smartphone with deep Facebook integration to run on a single carrier with exclusivity, ala the Apple iPhone.

CNET noted that although the company denied building a smartphone, it did not respond when asked whether it was developing a Facebook-branded phone with the help of a third party. Another source told CNET that "the concept is in the very early stages and Facebook apparently has not determined whether to proceed."

CNET questions the marketability of a Facebook-branded phone, and cites the relatively weak sales of the Nexus One, and the disastrously disappointing Microsoft Kin (which deeply integrated social media and mobile phones), as reasons for pause.

But, the Microsoft Kin failed for reasons other than deep social media integration -- price and a weak, disjointed OS.

If done right -- especially if coupled with the already massively successful Android OS -- a Facebook phone could be hugely popular. After all, 500 million built-in customers can't be wrong.





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