Sure, the new phones INQ and HTC rolled out this week are Facebook-friendly. But none of them is the Facebook phone. Which, despite repeated protestations to the contrary, it sure sounds like is in the works. Although not how we first thought.
First came whispers reported over at TechCrunch that the Facebook phone being planned has nothing to do with hardware. Instead, what Zuckerberg and friends are working on is a version of Android with deep Facebook integration, wherein the social service would be at the core of every mobile interaction. In that vision, "Facebook phone" would have the same type of meaning as "Android phone:" a diverse family of hardware devices that share an specialized mobile platform.
How do we know that's not just casual speculation? Because Facebook seems to be on the same page, according to a blog post today by Facebook mobile engineer Charles Wu:
In addition to these new phones from INQ and HTC, you'll also be seeing similar deep Facebook integration on dozens of other devices over the course of this year. Some manufacturers will be highlighting Facebook as a part of their phones' on-screen interfaces, and others will use our brand as an element of the device hardware itself.
Put the rumors and that statement together, and a pretty clear picture starts to form: an army of Facebook phones, from an array of manufacturers, united by a common Android tweak and a compelling need to share. [TechCrunch, Facebook]