Facebook’s Android Event Leads To Speculation That It’s Launching Its Own Smartphone

HTC is rumored to be the partner here.

Facebook’s Android Event Leads To Speculation That It’s Launching Its Own Smartphone

An invitation to an event next week has reignited the Facebook smartphone rumor again. Entitled “Come see our new home on Android,” the launch is taking place at Facebook HQ in Menlo Park on Thursday, April 4, and has 9to5Google claiming that this is going to be the firm’s first foray into the device market.

It’s partnered up with HTC to do most of the hardware heavy lifting, and the two firms have been working together on a marketing campaign. The ads apparently focus on the user, rather than the hardware or software. One of the tag lines is rumored to be “more than just an app.” In fact, an IDC study sponsored by Facebook and released yesterday, found that 7% of mobile users find their apps via the social network.

Those who have seen the smartphone say that it looks very similar to an iPhone–but don’t most phones these days?–with a large home button on the bottom and “capacitive” function keys to each side of it. The screen is larger than that of the Apple device–4.3 inches compared to 4.0, say some.

Perhaps, however, the launch is just a reworking of Facebook’s Android app, rather than a forked version of Android, rather like Amazon did with the software on its Kindle Fire. (But don’t forget the whispers about Amazon’s rumored ambitions in the smartphone arena, either.) If that’s the case, and Thursday’s unveiling will be a Facebook OS–the next question is, why launch an OS without a mobile device?

What do you think is coming out of 1 Hacker Way on Thursday? We’ve long known Mark Zuckerberg’s ambitions to have Facebook on every phone, and its Facebook apps already provide rival versions of services on Android and iOS, but is a Facebook-branded phone something you might be interested in? Tell us in the comments, please.

[Image by Flickr user babyben]

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My writing career has taken me all round the houses over the past decade and a half--from grumpy teens and hungover rock bands in the U.K., where I was born, via celebrity interviews, health, tech and fashion in Madrid and Paris, before returning to London, where I now live. For the past five years I've been writing about technology and innovation for U.S.