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Facebook Said To Be Developing Phone With HTC

timothy posted more than 2 years ago | from the hey-the-weasels-said-the-words-first dept.

Android 78

ProbablyJoe writes "AllThingsD is running a series of stories this week about a possible new Facebook phone, codenamed 'Buffy.' The phone is said to be in development by HTC, who collaborated with Facebook earlier this year for the Salsa and ChaCha/Status phones, which both had physical Facebook buttons, and a degree of integration with the social network. While these rumors have been going around for quite a while, the article contains some new information, and neither Facebook or HTC are denying the rumors. The phone will be based on Android, but like Amazon's Kindle Fire, will be heavily modified to integrate with Facebook, potentially using Facebook's HTML5 platform. While we're unlikely to see any official announcements or releases any time soon, Facebook are eager to compete with Google and Apple, and are likely to want a phone of their own on shelves as soon as possible."

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78 comments

Privacy! (5, Insightful)

TaoPhoenix (980487) | more than 2 years ago | (#38135768)

Oh neat.

Two of the most privacy-destroying forces joined together!

Re:Privacy! (2)

AngryDeuce (2205124) | more than 2 years ago | (#38135790)

All Your Data Are Belong To Us.

Re:Privacy! (2)

tripleevenfall (1990004) | more than 2 years ago | (#38137344)

I can see the facebook phone now... its microphone eavesdrops on your retail transactions and catalogues your purchases. It senses other people with the facebook phone in near proximity and suggests that you may know them. It removes the bother of checking yourself in to every commercial location you pass through. When you walk by a store it alerts you to go in and check out a sale. It bleats and mooos when your Farmville farm needs attention. (I can see it now, drivers mowing down pedestrians because the chocolate milk cow needed water)

Re:Privacy! (4, Insightful)

gstoddart (321705) | more than 2 years ago | (#38136042)

Two of the most privacy-destroying forces joined together!

Yup, you'll be constantly prompted to enter your email address and password so it can find people to put into your contact book. At least, until it deems you have enough contacts ... yeah, like I'm giving you my password.

I'm sorry, but I don't trust Facebook with factual information about me ... I'm sure as not going to trust them with my telephone information or a password to another system.

However, I bet there's going to be a market for this.

Re:Privacy! (1)

rickb928 (945187) | more than 2 years ago | (#38136470)

The constant prompting to link contacts to Facebook friends is already a feature or many Android phones, especially the ones running Sense.

Nothing new there.

Re:Privacy! (2)

gstoddart (321705) | more than 2 years ago | (#38136794)

The constant prompting to link contacts to Facebook friends is already a feature or many Android phones, especially the ones running Sense.

Yeah, well, Facebook will get only the information I give them, and I don't much care what they want. I'm still not giving them a password to my email account, and it's none of their fscking business the phone numbers of my contacts.

Zuckerberg can give me his password first as a show of good faith.

Re:Privacy! (1)

tripleevenfall (1990004) | more than 2 years ago | (#38137446)

Don't worry, MSFT is going to save us from all of this. I hear they have this cool new "KIN" phone that is great for social networking.

Re:Privacy! (1)

mikael (484) | more than 2 years ago | (#38140516)

I'd have thought they would have moved to fingerprint, face or iris recognition since these devices all have cameras.

Re:Privacy! (1)

AlexW52 (2514574) | more than 2 years ago | (#38141208)

Two of the most privacy-destroying forces joined together!

Yup, you'll be constantly prompted to enter your email address and password so it can find people to put into your contact book. At least, until it deems you have enough contacts ... yeah, like I'm giving you my password.

I'm sorry, but I don't trust Facebook with factual information about me ... I'm sure as not going to trust them with my telephone information or a password to another system.

However, I bet there's going to be a market for this.

And, they'll constantly be updating your ringtones without telling you, and changing the way you dial. Maybe some days in reverse? Or, others in the order of the most popular numbers?

Re:Privacy! (1)

tehcyder (746570) | more than 2 years ago | (#38146396)

I'm sorry, but I don't trust Facebook with factual information about me

So what's the point of using it?

Re:Privacy! (1)

tehcyder (746570) | more than 2 years ago | (#38146354)

Oh neat.

Two of the most privacy-destroying forces joined together!

Yes, just wait for the law making use of this phone compulsory and we're practically in Orwell's 1984!

Oh, wait...

Joke or bad writing? Both? (3, Insightful)

Georules (655379) | more than 2 years ago | (#38135866)

With Buffy, though, the integration will go much deeper, bringing friends and social activities deep into the mobile interface.

Is this supposed to be a sexual joke or is this article just terribly written?

Re:Joke or bad writing? Both? (1)

rtfa-troll (1340807) | more than 2 years ago | (#38135976)

Looking at the picture illustrating the article and knowing that the main design aim of Facebook was to spy on Mark's ex-girlfriends (and never-have-been-girlfriends), I guess that your idea of bad writing is just wishful thinking.

Re:Joke or bad writing? Both? (2)

gstoddart (321705) | more than 2 years ago | (#38136220)

Is this supposed to be a sexual joke or is this article just terribly written?

Sarah Michelle Gellar bent over a table showing cleavage, holding a Facebook phone with a graphic of dripping blood ... definitely sexual, likely not a joke ... just trying to figure out who the metaphorical Vampire is in this one.

I wonder if that's an 'official' Facebook phone photo, or something the site did in photoshop.

Re:Joke or bad writing? Both? (2)

Daniel Dvorkin (106857) | more than 2 years ago | (#38136858)

just trying to figure out who the metaphorical Vampire is in this one

Yeah, my first thought before I even saw the graphic was, "Why would a vampire want to name a phone after someone who's going to kill it?"

Re:Joke or bad writing? Both? (3, Funny)

need4mospd (1146215) | more than 2 years ago | (#38136944)

Kristy Swanson bent over a table showing cleavage, holding a Facebook phone with a graphic of dripping blood ... definitely sexual, likely not a joke ...

Fixed it for you.

Re:Joke or bad writing? Both? (1)

gstoddart (321705) | more than 2 years ago | (#38137822)

Fixed it for you.

Really? I'm pretty sure this [allthingsd.com] is Sarah Michelle Gellar ... but, I'm willing to entertain the fact that I can't tell the difference between two skinny blondes. :-P

I only knew the TV series ... and even that only a little. To me, that looks like Sarah Michelle Gellar. That, of course, doesn't make me correct. :-P

Re:Joke or bad writing? Both? (1)

Algae_94 (2017070) | more than 2 years ago | (#38139978)

Have no fear, your ability to tell the difference between skinny blondes is quite functional. That is Sarah Michelle Gellar. I think need4mospd is a Buffy purist that believes only the movie with Kristy Swanson matters.

Re:Joke or bad writing? Both? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38142864)

If they want the slashdot nerds to go for this phone it needs Natalie Portman bent over a table showing cleavage, holding a Facebook phone with a graphic of hot grits.

I'm looking forward to... (5, Insightful)

Chrisq (894406) | more than 2 years ago | (#38135900)

I'm looking forward to having a private conversation with my doctor or lawyer posted into all my friends voicemail boxes due to an unannounced "improvement" in the phone's security profiles.

Re:I'm looking forward to... (1)

Chrisq (894406) | more than 2 years ago | (#38135942)

I'm looking forward to having a private conversation with my doctor or lawyer posted into all my friends voicemail boxes due to an unannounced "improvement" in the phone's security profiles.

...Or an important call interpreted with "chantell276 has commented on your picture"

Re:I'm looking forward to... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38135948)

Well, if you have done nothing wrong, you have nothing to hide, right? :-)

Re:I'm looking forward to... (2)

Chrisq (894406) | more than 2 years ago | (#38136016)

Well, if you have done nothing wrong, you have nothing to hide, right? :-)

Is that you Mark Zuckerberg?

Re:I'm looking forward to... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38140102)

he is not an anonymous coward. /sarcasm

Re:I'm looking forward to... (4, Funny)

tripleevenfall (1990004) | more than 2 years ago | (#38137370)

"But you can opt out of this!"

(You just have to slap on your fedora and run through the Temple of Account Settings)

The SpyPhone! (1)

gweihir (88907) | more than 2 years ago | (#38135980)

Everything you will ever do in the future will be recorded, analyzed and measured. The data will be sold. You will get lots of advertisements that you cannot block. Oh, and the phone will be illegal in Europe.

Skeptical (4, Insightful)

macwhizkid (864124) | more than 2 years ago | (#38135986)

I just don't see this working out for well for Facebook. History is littered with examples of successful software companies that thought their brilliance extended to hardware. It almost never works out; they inevitably rediscover not only that hardware is an order of magnitude more challenging to get to market than software, but customers are much less forgiving about flaws and bugs when they can't be fixed with a simple update.

But in this case especially, I don't understand what kind of core assets Facebook can leverage on their own device that they're not getting elsewhere. With Google at least it made sense that they didn't want their search platform ignored amidst a sea of apps (though in many ways the world is still going that way, even on Android). But what exactly can a "Facebook phone" offer that an iOS/Android device with the Facebook app can't?

Clearly they think they have an answer to that question, or at least they're worried enough about the diluted (and deluded, for that matter) social network landscape to make themselves believe they've found one.

Re:Skeptical (3, Insightful)

schlesinm (934723) | more than 2 years ago | (#38136090)

I just don't see this working out for well for Facebook. History is littered with examples of successful software companies that thought their brilliance extended to hardware. It almost never works out; they inevitably rediscover not only that hardware is an order of magnitude more challenging to get to market than software, but customers are much less forgiving about flaws and bugs when they can't be fixed with a simple update.

It's not just software to hardware transition that is hard, but web app to consumer device. Right now, Facebook controls all updates and can make all changes completely under their control. With a Facebook phone, any update will need to go through the phone manufacturer and the carrier to get it out. And we have seen how hard it is for Google to get phones up to the latest release.

Re:Skeptical (1)

Oswald McWeany (2428506) | more than 2 years ago | (#38136766)

I'm sure there are some people who are so much hooked to face book and want to become moreso that they will buy the phone.

HOWEVER.

How many people really feel that the current apps arn't linking them in to facebook enough?

I can't imagine many people place "facebook" as a high priority when choosing a phone.

Re:Skeptical (1)

tripleevenfall (1990004) | more than 2 years ago | (#38137412)

I can't see people buying a phone just for Facebook primarily because every phone out there already handles Facebook pretty effectively. They can't really offer greater integration. What could they do, slap a physical button on it to open facebook?

Re:Skeptical (1)

tehcyder (746570) | more than 2 years ago | (#38146470)

I can't see people buying a phone just for Facebook primarily because every phone out there already handles Facebook pretty effectively. They can't really offer greater integration. What could they do, slap a physical button on it to open facebook?

Well, yes. It wouldn't exactly hurt their online presence if people pressed "Facebook" instead of "Browser", would it?

Re:Skeptical (1)

tehcyder (746570) | more than 2 years ago | (#38146466)

Well, how abourt we let facebook sell their phone and see what happens, eh?

I personally couldn't care less, but you can hardly criticise facebook for trying to expand their brand.

Re:Skeptical (1)

nolife (233813) | more than 2 years ago | (#38136986)

Facebook has very little to lose and much to gain from getting into various hardware. This phone sales when compared to quantity sold of other models could be a bust but the real goal is not total sales. The more devices on the street that have Facebook integration, the harder or less likely people will be to switch to a competing social network. Think of all of the media boxes and internet connected televisions, blue ray players etc that have things like embedded like Netflix and Facebook. All of the companies with a Facebook presence, the +1 links etc.. IMO, this is why Netflix kept the the Netflix name on the streaming service and renamed the mail order spinoff. Facebook is turning into something similar to what AOL was, a semi walled interconnected community with some central control. They are building it in the other direction though, from open to closed.

Re:Skeptical (1)

ADRA (37398) | more than 2 years ago | (#38141358)

If there's any truth to this story then their rationale is most likely the result of Google blocking their contacts/accounts and dialer integration. I'd personally say that Google's stance on data extraction is quite fair (What's good for the goose is good for the gander), but it means that Facebook is crippled on Android devices, and almost certainly never be fully integrated on IOS.

Once again, if in fact this story's real (of which I'm personally skeptical) I don't see it being a success. They have two options: Use Android or use a poorly developer serviced OS which will in all likelihood be forgotten by most developers in 5 years. IF they go for Android, they still have the natural barrier of Google who's bridges are all burned. The odds of a Facebook phone being 'certified' for the Google apps is next to zilch, so it comes down to Facebook needing their own store to drive sales.

One could argue that the viral nature of Facebook will lead to better applications discovery. but that advantage can only start to kick in once enough of their subscribers are also phone owners. Without that critical mass, its just another annoying "Facebook Games"-esk notification that gets dropped into the mental bit bucket.

This... (1)

DiEx-15 (959602) | more than 2 years ago | (#38147232)

...Will not end well for Facebook. I can say with a degree of certainty that most FB users have not said "You know... I wish I had a phone that was like Facebook. One that can expose all my secrets and intimate moments for all the world to see without my consent! I never liked privacy anyways!"

Re:Skeptical (1)

GuB-42 (2483988) | more than 2 years ago | (#38150820)

Google don't sell hardware. Android is an OS and most of the low level code is not written by google. Google phones (Nexus...) are like any other android phones, designed and produced by hardware companies. The only thing it that they are used as a reference by developers.

As for the facebook phone, I think that it will end as just another android phone with a slightly more tightly integrated facebook app. It doesn't need more than this, the fact that it is labeled "Facebook" is the important part. It is a common tactic. Take motor oil for example, oil X may specify "for engine Y" while cheaper generic oil Z works just as well (or better). And most engine Y users will buy oil X.

My Prediction (1)

frankxcid (884419) | more than 2 years ago | (#38135994)

Why does this look like a doomed project from the begining? In the age of touch screens, a button? really. My current phone has the facebook app, email, text messages, web browser and address book that already integrate with facebook. What more is there?

Re:My Prediction (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38136508)

That isn't a prediction at all.

Re:My Prediction (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38140630)

It's not easy to mine your call log data

Eager to compete? (3, Insightful)

CruelKnave (1324841) | more than 2 years ago | (#38136012)

Facebook are eager to compete with Google

I wouldn't have thought that releasing an Android phone counts as competing with Google. It may be heavily modified for Facebook usage, but somewhere along the line, Google will still be making money from it, yes?.

Re:Eager to compete? (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38136282)

I think part of it is a defense mechanism from facebook. Google will potentially heavily integrate google+ with android. Given how mobile is becoming so popular with consumer, facebook wants to make sure they do not get caught flat footed in the near future.

Re:Eager to compete? (1)

HJED (1304957) | more than 2 years ago | (#38146478)

They can't integrate it too heavily because a reasonable sized demographic for Android Phones (teenagers) can't use Google+ as it is limited to people under 18 (whilst this is obviously mitigated, I would wager it is one of the primary reasons for Google+'s failure.)

Re:Eager to compete? (1)

tehcyder (746570) | more than 2 years ago | (#38146506)

I think part of it is a defense mechanism from facebook. Google will potentially heavily integrate google+ with android. Given how mobile is becoming so popular with consumer, facebook wants to make sure they do not get caught flat footed in the near future.

But why should facebook care about the half dozen or so people who use Google+ instead of facebook?

Re:Eager to compete? (1)

inpher (1788434) | more than 2 years ago | (#38147432)

Facebook has its own ad network essentially bypassing Google's potential revenue, that is the reason I suspect it might indeed be a threat to Google, however, it remains to see if Facebook is going to go into search and related areas. Facebook could conceivably do an Apple/Siri-like move since Siri only uses Google as a last resort while going directly to the sources (Yelp, Wolfram Alpha, Yahoo Finance & Weather). Siri could conceivably easily be extended with additional data sources and so could a Facebook search interface also.

Phone for all occasions. (4, Funny)

Oswald McWeany (2428506) | more than 2 years ago | (#38136306)

There are several social networking phones in the works- not just the facebook phone.

Facebook Phone: Invites people to talk to you that you didn't call.

iGoogle Phone: Built in GPS drives you in circles.

Despora Phone: Offers greater security but you need to wait a year after placing the call for the call to go through.

Twitter Phone: Phone only lets you speak a sentence per call and lets anyone hear.

MySpace Phone: No one uses this phone and all phone calls get talked over by "male-enhancement" ads.

Re:Phone for all occasions. (2)

CaptBubba (696284) | more than 2 years ago | (#38137020)

Don't forget the Bittorrent Phone: arrives piece by piece, each taped onto one of five thousand postcards.

News? Newes? (2)

rickb928 (945187) | more than 2 years ago | (#38136680)

Is it like this [phonedog.com] ?

Well, you can buy that now [att.com] .

And this winter, we read that there is not only a Facebook phone [phonedog.com] coming (albeit no sign of this particular one yet), but there's more than one [phonedog.com] .

Hey, when do we get new news, huh?

Re:News? Newes? (1)

schlesinm (934723) | more than 2 years ago | (#38137340)

AllThingsD [allthingsd.com] has a series of articles on this where they talk about the multiple attempts of a Facebook phone. They investigated creating a phone from scratch (hardware/software/distribution/carriers/etc.) and eventually gave up. The newest attempt is the one that's leaking out now with HTML5 Facebook layer on top of Android with HTC building the hardware.

Facebook are eager to compete (1)

dave562 (969951) | more than 2 years ago | (#38136980)

Really now? Facebook are eager to compete?

Is we educated in English here too?

Re:Facebook are eager to compete (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38139090)

Really now? Facebook are eager to compete?

Is we educated in English here too?

"Facebook are eager to compete" is perfectly good English. My best guess is that you're making some narrow parochial point about how it offends against typical American usage. If so then I'm afraid you're going to have to get used to the fact that the internet is global these days. A shame perhaps, but there it is.

Re:Facebook are eager to compete (1)

dave562 (969951) | more than 2 years ago | (#38139402)

Facebook is a company. Facebook is singular. --- This IS the correct way to use the language.

Facebook are a company. Facebook are singular. --- This ARE not the correct way to use the language.

You need to go back to school and re-learn the difference between singular and plural. No wonder you posted as anonymous.

Re:Facebook are eager to compete (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38139598)

If you're talking about the company, are is not correct. If you're talking about Facebook in terms of being a company full of people, then Facebook are, indeed, eager to compete.

Re:Facebook are eager to compete (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38139882)

I really hope you're trolling but if not then for goodness sake please Google 'formal and notional agreement' before you make any more of a fool of yourself.

Re:Facebook are eager to compete (1)

Lincolnshire Poacher (1205798) | more than 2 years ago | (#38140168)

> Facebook are a company. Facebook are singular.

First, British English uses the plural to refer to companies.

Second, what does the word company actually mean? Correct, a collection of people. Plural.

Re:Facebook are eager to compete (1)

dave562 (969951) | more than 2 years ago | (#38140280)

You are correct, a company is a collection of people. But a company is incorporated once and exists as a single entity for legal purposes. Therefore the company is singular. Although I suppose we could take a trip into zany land, and label Facebook employees Facebooks. "Facebooks are eager to compete." That could make some semblance of sense.

You wacky Brits. No wonder we broke away from you. :P

Re:Facebook are eager to compete (1)

tehcyder (746570) | more than 2 years ago | (#38146614)

You wacky Brits. No wonder we broke away from you. :P

I never knew you Yanks took grammar so seriously, I'm quite impressed it wasn't about something trivial like taxation without representation.

Re:Facebook are eager to compete (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38140916)

Correct, a collection of people. Singular.

Fixed that for you.

Re:Facebook are eager to compete (1)

tehcyder (746570) | more than 2 years ago | (#38146606)

Facebook is a company. Facebook is singular. --- This IS the correct way to use the language.

Facebook are a company. Facebook are singular. --- This ARE not the correct way to use the language.

You need to go back to school and re-learn the difference between singular and plural. No wonder you posted as anonymous.

Bad luck old chap, GP's point is quite correct, which is that you are talking purely about American Englisjh usage. In the UK .we say "Sainsburys are planning to open a hundred new stores" or "BA are in negotiations with unions over possible strike action".

So unless the OP was definitely an American your criticism fails. The fact that Facebook are American is irrelevant: we would also normally say "General Motors make shitty cars" or "Apple are an evil company", although it would not actually be wrong to use "makes" or "is" instead.

Re:Facebook are eager to compete (1)

93 Escort Wagon (326346) | more than 2 years ago | (#38140450)

If so then I'm afraid you're going to have to get used to the fact that the internet is global these days. A shame perhaps, but there it is.

This hypothetical "rest of the world" that's outside of America is clearly a myth - I, for one, don't believe in it.

Facebook can barely develop (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38137044)

Seriously? How many times has Facebook made a "change" and the whole community freaked out over it? People continue to use Facebook because it's free, but if one has to pay for a product they may not go for it given Facebook's past development practices. In addition, Facebook's mobile site doesn't even work half the time and they obviously don't test code before putting it into production on their mobile or full site.

Good luck, Facebook. This may be your end.

No thanks... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38137916)

I do not care to to have some "dumb fuck" [theregister.co.uk] adding my name and number to a device integrated with Zuckerburgs privacy invading platform.

Fix the regular app first? (1)

edmicman (830206) | more than 2 years ago | (#38139288)

Maybe they should instead focus on fixing their piece of crap existing mobile apps first. I can only really speak to the Android app although I've read in the past that the iPhone version has lots of complaints, too. To say the Android Facebook app is completely awful in every way is putting it too nicely. A few revisions back they did away with the native feel altogether; now the feed appears to be some sort of embedded web view into the mobile website. It is slow to scroll, doesn't always register clicks correctly (because you're clicking on hyperlinks instead of click areas), and will randomly change at Facebook's whim. There's a weird refresh/scrolling glitch where you scroll down and suddenly the "updating" graphic shows at the top and the screen clips and jumps. Other times there's a refresh bug where it will just constantly refresh - you'll scroll down through the feed and it will jump to the top repeatedly until you exit out and back in.

There are UI inconsistencies all over the place. There's the main newsfeed which is the crappy web view. Going to a profile brings up the old native UI. Sometimes clicking through something (still within the Facebook realm) drops you to the mobile site instead. Tagging people works sometimes, sometimes it doesn't. It's always been slow in general - half the time images won't load correctly, or start loading and then stop, and they are always slow to work with anyway. It's a mess.

I really just want to be able to follow the newsfeed in a fast reliable manner and have the same basic features as the main site. But in a native app - HTML5 may be the future but it doesn't give the same experience as the native UIs. As big as Facebook is and I assume a lot of people use their mobile apps, but it completely falls down compared to what Google has done with their Google+ app. I think the mobile app space will be the downfall of Facebook - the harder it becomes to use their mobile apps the less I'm likely to use it and instead focus on other social networks.

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