Facebook's got a special event scheduled for this Wednesday, and the graphic for it definitely suggests something telephonic. But will Facebook reveal an own-branded phone this week or not? We've gathered together some of the rumors and opinions knocking about on the Intertubes for you.
Speculation has been circulating for ages that Facebook is working on a smartphone that to a greater or lesser extent operates on a Facebook-centric custom UI. Facebook's spokespeople have denied it. The rumors have popped up again—it's the usual high-tech game.
Will it happen this week? That graphic from Facebook's invite certainly references telephony, even while you may question the relevance of a low-tech string-and-cup comms system in today's smartphone-laden world. The timing would also be pretty hot: Fuss about Apple's iPhone is relatively low at the moment, and an announcement and launch of a Facebook phone in the weeks before the holiday season would definitely result in millions of the devices being bought by parents to slide into teenager's Christmas gift piles.
The big questions are: Is there really a Facebook smartphone at all? Has Facebook had enough lead-in time to develop a good product? And will it launch on a random day in November instead of in time with Facebook's developer conference, where it could attract the enthusiasm of Facebook app writers?
Facebook Skype Integration in Smartphone Apps
Just the other week, Facebook and Skype announced a collaboration that lets Skype users connect to their Facebook friends inside Skype's apps on the desktop. It was a powerful alliance between the world's biggest social network (and thus, biggest directory of online net-savvy communications-happy folks) and the world's most popular VoIP system.
But are the two companies now going to announce tighter integration, with Skype powers woven throughout Facebook itself, and even embedded into Facebook's smartphone apps? It would certainly be a powerful move for Facebook, and it would be a way for Skype to challenge Apple's FaceTime system, which debuted on the iPhone 4 but is set to make a huge splash in the Net-based web videocalling game.
Facebook "Deals" Location-Based Coupons with Smartphone Integration
We've learned Facebook has a "Deals" system under deep field testing at the moment. It's closely linked with the Places check-in game, and borrows a bit of thinking from Foursquare's clever locations-based deals model as well as some of the media-grabbing activities of Groupon. Given the success of Facebook itself, and its 500-million-plus userbase, a reveal of Deals, with tight smartphone integration, could happen this week.
Some thinkers suggest Facebook will use Wednesday's event to reveal a dedicated iPad app—something that's been in the offing for months. It's a definite possibility, but it doesn't chime with the theme of the invite graphic, suggesting it may be a secondary announcement.
Automatic "Um" and hesitation detector for VoIP calls on Facebook Skype
Well...we're joking. But this app would definitely have one very high-profile customer.