back to article Why Zuck will go soft for Facebook Phone - and rebrand Android

Facebook's attempt to recruit smartphone engineers is being taken as proof that the boy Zuck is chasing mobile hardware again - but this ignores the cheaper and faster alternative of installing a Facebook OS onto existing devices. Creating electronic kit is expensive, tricky and risky. However, if Facebook focussed its …


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  1. Jeebus

    I have a feeling this is the way they're going to go regardless, it makes the most sense to use an established entity and provide a twist, especially in the turnaround they seem to be aiming for release of an actual product.

    I also have a feeling the chocolate factory are about to wall in more of their code base, especially heading into the second half of this year.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      Just what the world needs right now, ANOTHER Android phone.

      1. Fibbles

        Re: Just

        The demand is there, so you are correct.

  2. EddieD

    "Deciding to go it alone with custom hardware has to be an ego trip of epic proportions"

    Like the whole of Facebook then?

  3. Wibble

    Par for the course

    Farsebook copying someone else's work and ideas and branding it as their own.

    Here little children, sweeties...

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Par for the course

      I thought Android was open source? Isn't that the whole point of open source?

      1. FrankAlphaXII

        Re: Par for the course

        It is. Read any of the three big Open Source licenses. Anyone stating otherwise needs to learn a bit more about how Free and Open Source Software legally work.

  4. dotdavid
    Thumb Down


    Interesting speculation but I don't buy it.

    Fine, Facebook could offer a Facebook-ified Android variant and partner with some hardware manufacturer to make "facebook phones" running this software. In fact if they crack the update situation and handle the updates independently of the hardware manufacturer (you know, like Google should have done) it might even be better than vanilla Android for the average punter.

    But offer builds for popular devices a la CyanogenMod? Unlikely. They'd either have to get support from the hardware manufacturers (which strikes me as a road fraught with lethargy, bureaucracy and slow-progress) or users who installed such a system would be voiding their warranty - which isn't something many people treat lightly.

    1. Charlie Clark Silver badge

      Re: Hmmm

      Aside from the issues of encouraging users to invalidate the warranties of their devices by installing a different OS, they'd also have to support any idiots facebookers willing to try.

      Easier to partner with an existing manufacturer such as HTC and get them to do the software changes. Buying RIM would give them the possibly poisoned chalice of a hardware department but more attractively the messaging suite.

      Time for those with inside knowledge to make some money from the stockmarket.

      1. h4rm0ny

        Re: Hmmm

        "Time for those with inside knowledge to make some money from the stockmarket."

        I'm not sure anyone is making money on Facebook stock beyond the initial IPO. It's just dipped below $30 for the first time. Shot down pretty much as soon as trading opened. Any small players holding on waiting for a better time to sell: get out now whlist you can afford your loss.

        As to the phone - it's going to have to be an Android-based device. But they wont be able to make it better than Google does who are obviously the masters of Android, In fact, they'll only really be able to make it worse as to recoup costs and please their newfound investors, they'll have to riddle it with ads.

        And what will they do about existing Facebook apps on other platforms? If they make them better, they take away from the reason people might buy their phone. If they don't improve them or they let them stagnate, then they're excluding themselves from the increasing majority of their users who do everything via tablet or phone.

        1. Turtle_Fan

          Re: Hmmm - Not quite

          I may have no FB stock but have been shorting it like mad last week. So you CAN make money out of FB stock.

        2. Charlie Clark Silver badge

          Re: Hmmm

          I'm not sure anyone is making money on Facebook stock beyond the initial IPO. It's just dipped below $30 for the first time.

          You can be sure that someone is making money on that. It's what short-selling is all about. And any employees that were given shares before the IPO and are allowed to sell them might be cashing in as well. Even at $30 a share they're still getting a pretty good deal.

          1. h4rm0ny

            Re: Hmmm

            "And any employees that were given shares before the IPO and are allowed to sell them might be cashing in as well."

            You'll note that I very specifically wrote "since the IPO". I think the only ones making money off Facebook stock are those selling them off because they got them from being an owner or employee. As to shorting it, perhaps. Someone on here the other day said that their broker system refused to accept shorting on FB stock and would only allow them to go long. Which says it all, if true.

            Stock continued to slide today, btw. It's dropped down to $28.84 now. Looks like its being held up by people being unwilling to sell at a loss, imo.Which will probably translate into a continuing medium decline for a while until it collapses more suddenly. It's true value has to be <$20 so that's where it will end up sooner or later.

            1. Turtle_Fan

              Re: Hmmm

              Hey Harmony, as I've come to appreciate your comments over time, allow me a small correction.

              What your buddy said/wrote correct and not indicative of any issue either. Newly listed stock get around a week's worth of immunity from shorts, ie no shorting for the first week or thereabouts (depending on the platform). Shorting has been allowed on FB at least since the weekend.

              Which is why further drops are coming now that naked shorts are coming into play and many 400lb hedge fund gorillas have a bone to pick with FB.

              Finally, I'd be very sceptical about most of the selling coming from FB-ers. Employees are typically given a moratorium of minimum 6 months that they need to keep the stock before dumping it.

              1. h4rm0ny
                Thumb Up

                Re: Hmmm

                Thanks for both corrections. I didn't know about the moratorium on shorting for the first week. Makes good sense and explains why it wasn't allowed by the system which surprised me.

                @anyone reading both our posts and wondering who is right, Turtle_Fan is correct on both points.

  5. Jess

    Couldn't they just buy Nokia?

    Now Microsoft has lowered the cost.

    They could even resurrect Symbian.

    1. dotdavid

      Re: Couldn't they just buy Nokia?

      Perhaps they should have bought WebOS when they could have.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Here's another potentially stupid idea: buy RIM

    shouldn't waste any more money in the long term than trying to enter the hardware market from scratch

  7. Big_Ted

    Facebook Android UI......

    You know what the responce from Google would be, two tiers of Android from version 5 onwards.

    The full fat version for those who have Gmail etc installed by the manufacturer

    A cut down version for others to build their own UI and apps on that has restricted API's to ensure it not as fast and is missing certain parts.

    Good luck Zuck but your dream of a phone has no chance unless you buy Nokia or RIM with their own OS available to do the job for you as their last hoorah before following those other greats of the past like Sun, Gateway, DEC, Atari and Netscape.

  8. Irongut

    Producing a FB mod for Android would not be worthwhile. If it requires the phone to be rooted and invalidates the warranty then only geeks will use it, it will never gain popular traction with normal users. It makes much more sense for FB to do what Amazon did with the Fire and produce their own Android based devices but without the Google apps.

    I really don't think it would be difficult or expensive to go to HTC and ask them to design a FB version of one of their current models then load that with FB's alternatives to the Google apps. How many they would sell is another matter but it would definitely get more users than an FBmod.

  9. DrXym

    Lack of services

    Google has email, web search, VOIP, social networking, news aggregation, mobile advertising, maps / directions and an app store.

    Facebook only has a fraction of that. I really don't see how they could possibly build out a phone by themselves. They'll have to go to people like Amazon or Bing (Microsoft) or Yahoo to provide all the services they don't have themselves and I really don't see any potential partners having the slightest interest in providing service to someone else's branded product.

    I can understand why Facebook might want such a phone (given that Google is their rival) but for end users this looks like a losing proposition. They can already get Facebook on their phones without sacrificing functionality so what exactly would be the attraction in a branded phone?

    1. Dave Perry

      Re: Lack of services

      "I really don't see any potential partners having the slightest interest in providing service to someone else's branded product"

      If you take home broadband as a product, Google are quite happy to host Virgin Media users' email. Better to have some money from providing a backend than none from that group of users' (ISP's) customers...

      1. DrXym

        Re: Lack of services

        I think that is different since Google specifically sells GMail to businesses.

        I'm referring to the likes of Bing, Yahoo, Amazon who might have the services that a Facebook phone needs to build out but are hardly going to be happy about playing second banana to Facebook. In the case of Bing, it's questionable if their interests are served by running on Android at all unless they hope to fragment the platform. And Amazon probably have their own aspirations to think of.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I'm thinking resurrecting Danger...

    ... or redoing the idea from scratch with the aid of a few now thorougly disgruntled ex-Danger ex-redmond employees. That sort of concept is what I'd be after. And shit, the he has the money, so why not?

    As to the wisdom of the entire idea, well... I wouldn't be willing to turn my mobile phone into st. zuck's bit^Wappliance. Far too walled and disagreeable a garden for me. But I'm not lots of other people, so maybe it'll be a riotous success. For a while, and $DEITY help us, beyond. Who knows?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: I'm thinking resurrecting Danger...

      "with the aid of a few now thorougly disgruntled ex-Danger ex-redmond employees"

      You mean like Andy Rubin? Now where does he work again.. I'm sure he was toying around with phones somewhere.

  11. Giles Jones Gold badge

    You forget that Microsoft is a big investor in FB. Can't see them being happy about Android.

    Nobody made a difference by just doing what everyone else is doing.

    1. Goldmember

      "Nobody made a difference by just doing what everyone else is doing."

      You're quite right, but Facebook need to start chucking out some tangible, revenue-producing products as quickly as possible, before their share price plummets beyond salvagable levels. So this may actually be the smart move for them.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: "Nobody made a difference by just doing what everyone else is doing."

        "Facebook need to start chucking out some tangible, revenue-producing products as quickly as possible, before their share price plummets beyond salvagable levels"

        At what point does it go beyond salvagable? at 1 cent per share they are apparently still worth 20 million dollars. Personally I'd value the entire operation at a nominal 5 dollars and that is for the domain name because I can't fathom out where *any* value apportioned to them comes from.

        1. Goldmember

          Re: "Nobody made a difference by just doing what everyone else is doing."

          Their operating costs are in the hundreds of millions. They spend $50 million a year on data center costs alone. Salvagable threshold would be WAY earlier than 1%

  12. Daf L

    "FB OS please"

    "If Facebook can get a few punters walking into shops and asking if phones will run the new "Facebook OS" then manufacturers might decide Facebook is a more comfortable partner than Google."

    Really? I can't ever see this happening - it's not as though punters walk into a shop and ask for a phone that runs the "Android OS" or the "Symbian OS" etc. Either they will be techy enough to know what phone runs what or they will just go in to browse and get the one that suits them most or know which phone they want as their friend has it.

    I would hazard a gues that the popularity of the Samsung Galaxy SII isn't due to the fact that it runs Android per-se but so many people have them.

    1. Dave Perry

      Re: "FB OS please"

      Admittedly 5mins with an S2 and I was quite impressed. Didn't try one for a week though, which would be better test

  13. Wang N Staines


    those Apple engineers jumped from iOS to Android.

  14. Rovindi

    Have you seen...

    ...Facebook´s "official" app for Android? It really sucks. It is utterly dreadful, which given the size of FB and the resources available, certainly says something about their ability to deliver the goods.

    The idea of an FB phone slurping all my data - calls, contacts, browsing history, photos etc - is very, very scary indeed.

    Sod the phone aspect and focus on the data aspect. This, potentially, has quite serious implications if this turns out to be true.

    1. Silverburn

      Re: Have you seen...

      Simple solution. Don't buy it. Educate others on the dangers, and watch them away in droves. Marvel at the effect on FB share price.

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Come on Zuck

    Zuck needs to listen to Elop. Facebook won't stand out from the crowd spinning a version of Android. Zuck needs to get a Windows 7.5 Facebook phone out there

  16. arrbee

    Maybe they'll decide to resurrect an older platform and give us... the FacePalm.

  17. sueme2

    Why stop there

    While we are at it, we should (could) do an iBrush. Then we would have convergence and a single all encompassing experience right across lusaland.

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    Disagree - Facebook will go with Microsoft.

    So, facebook could go android on a mobile device?

    No ways, no ways in hell is that going to happen - Google want a slice of that social pie, they've invested a lot first in the failed Buzz and now in Google+

    They would put roadblocks in the way of facebook going android, big roadblocks.

    I wouldn't say 'no love lost' between the two - that's conjecture - but there's a clear and present conflict of interests.

    Facebook and microsoft is a far more logical marriage - and it may just be the saving grace microsoft need to gain a steady foothold in the mobile social space. It all depends whether microsoft are willing to offer Facebook a deal they can't refuse - and lets face it, why wouldn't they?

    My money is on Zuck teaming up with Microsoft - and if it's done right, that gives both parties a very good fighting chance to gain serious ground with iOS and Android.

    Zuck and Google? - sorry, can't see it myself.

    1. h4rm0ny

      Re: Disagree - Facebook will go with Microsoft.

      I seriously hope not. WP7 already has pretty seamless FB integration (which I have turned off on mine) so I don't know what else would be added. MS actually make their money by selling their software. Unlike Apple who have their own hardware, and unlike Google, who make money off your data, MS are actually licencing their O/S for the phones. FB make money from advertising which is inherently detrimental to the O/S. It would make far more sense for FB to do an Android (which they can do for free, technically), than to partner with a pay-for-it O/S that they would only make less valuable by their integration.

      I really, really hope I never see a partnership between Facebook and MS because at that point, I've run out of places to retreat to.

  19. David Simpson 1

    Totally missing the point that the only way to use a custom ROM on a phone is to root the phone, then install a custom recovery then flash a rom, most Facebook fans would have trouble even understanding the terminology, although to be fair so does the author.

  20. Chet Mannly

    If they wanted to keep it simple, they could just write a launcher (a la launcher pro, zeam, et al).

    That way they could skin virtually the entire interface seen by the user and most importantly the home screen - the first thing people see when they use their phone. Then they could also put in their own email and SMS widgets connected to the FB messaging service.

    That makes it a 'facebook phone' with a simple free download from the Android market.

    Doesn't eliminate google apps, but, bypasses them, which would be the point right?

  21. the-it-slayer


    ...that they can't even get their own application sorted out. How on earth are they supposed to develop an operating system worth anything? Especially when it took FB donkeys to catch up on iPad launch (where alternatives were being written/sold well before) and the app just crashing on the wim when it decides it can't be bothered to calculate anymore HTML wrapping because it's hugely bloated.

    Hoping FB actually destroy the Android reputation overall if this ever makes it to market before their shares blow up.

  22. Schultz

    Let's hope they don't buy Opera

    ... I like my browser!

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