Facebook Building Branded Android Smartphone


Although Facebook has repeatedly denied rumors it will introduce its own branded smartphone, All Things Digital reports the social networking giant is collaborating with Taiwanese manufacturer HTC to build an Android-powered device delivering deep integration of its services.

The smartphone, code-named "Buffy" in honor of the television series Buffy the Vampire Slayer, is said to run a heavily modified version of Google's (NAS: GOOG) Android OS, and will support HTML5. HTC reportedly beat out Samsung Electronics to land the Facebook phone deal -- although HTC and rival manufacturers have developed devices with dedicated Facebook buttons, the Buffy phone will integrate social media services at a far deeper level, integrating contacts and sharing into the core of the user experience.

Facebook declined to comment directly on the report, telling All Things Digital "Our mobile strategy is simple: We think every mobile device is better if it is deeply social. We're working across the entire mobile industry; with operators, hardware manufacturers, OS providers, and application developers to bring powerful social experiences to more people around the world." HTC also declined to comment.

Rumors of a branded Facebook phone have circulated for years. In January 2011, the company denied it was working with HTC on a pair of branded devices slated to launch at this year's Mobile World Congress event in Barcelona. "This is really just another example of a manufacturer who has taken our public APIs (application programming interfaces) and integrated them into their device in an interesting way," Facebook head of business development Dan Rose told Reuters at that time.

Facebook now tops 800 million users worldwide, with more than 350 million users accessing the platform via mobile device each month. In September, Nielsen reported Facebook is now the most popular mobile app across all operating systems. Rolling out its own smartphone promises to grant Facebook greater control over the mobile user experience -- last month, the company expanded its Facebook Platform APIs and developer tools to the mobile ecosystem, which it called the first step toward creating enhanced mobile interactions.

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