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Facebook Smartphone a Dumb Idea, Says Farhad Manjoo

timothy posted more than 2 years ago | from the it'd-have-to-have-a-pretty-fancy-gimmick dept.

Android 128

beaverdownunder writes "Farhad Manjoo examines Facebook's rumoured entry into the smartphone market, concluding, 'So what would be the point in using the Facebook phone? Well, remember, it will be cheap. But so are lots of Android phones. If Facebook makes a phone, then, the device will necessarily spark a battle for the low end of the phone market, with each company offering ever-cheaper devices in the hopes of cashing in on some future advertising bonanza. If you're looking for a cheap, ad-heavy phone based on a dubious business model, you should rejoice. Otherwise, try to stifle your yawns.'"

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Will it be easier to manage my farm? (5, Funny)

sgraar (958944) | more than 2 years ago | (#40200335)

If so, I'm in.

Re:Will it be easier to manage my farm? (5, Funny)

spire3661 (1038968) | more than 2 years ago | (#40200349)

Im just going to pretend you meant 'server farm'.

Re:Will it be easier to manage my farm? (4, Funny)

flyneye (84093) | more than 2 years ago | (#40200423)

Server Farmville?

Re:Will it be easier to manage my farm? (1)

lister king of smeg (2481612) | more than 2 years ago | (#40200557)

IT-ville

Re:Will it be easier to manage my farm? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40200837)

When they make this game, I'll go back on facebook.

Re:Will it be easier to manage my farm? (1)

yoshi_mon (172895) | more than 2 years ago | (#40201321)

Real cash needed so that your farm does not end up like this [flickr.com] .

Re:Will it be easier to manage my farm? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40201535)

The documentation on that setup had damn well better be stellar though by the look of it, I'd say the binders are most likely full of unrelated shipping receipts and a few used Arby's napkins.

Re:Will it be easier to manage my farm? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40203517)

That image made my day.

Re:Will it be easier to manage my farm? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40200435)

Servant farm. His "friends".

Re:Will it be easier to manage my farm? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40200587)

FarmVille's active daily users seems to have plummeted. I wonder if those users moved on to another game or don't use facebook as often?

Re:Will it be easier to manage my farm? (1)

game kid (805301) | more than 2 years ago | (#40201099)

Zynga could be coaxing them to move on. Their homepage shows other -Ville games but not FarmVille.

Re:Will it be easier to manage my farm? (1)

future assassin (639396) | more than 2 years ago | (#40202723)

Make sure you patent that.

Facebook itself is just a bad idea... (0)

drussell (132373) | more than 2 years ago | (#40200353)

isn't it?

Contrarian view... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40200397)

isn't it?

FB stock got its ass kicked last week and there is just constant bad press - hardly anything good.

I'm beginning to think that maybe FB stock price may turn upward. It does actually make money. OTOH, at a pe of over 70, it does appear to be waaayyyyy overpriced and if you consider that FB's growth days are over, the stock price has nowhere to go but down to a floor of $7.80 (p/e of 20)?

Re:Contrarian view... (3, Insightful)

arisvega (1414195) | more than 2 years ago | (#40200715)

FB stock got its ass kicked last week and there is just constant bad press [..] I'm beginning to think that maybe FB stock price may turn upward.

Of course it may. And then it will crumble, and rise again, and so forth in this fashion. Now before you think that I am being a smartass, here is what I mean (albeit a bit off-topic):

I can see four basic components in this company, and by increasing order of importance they are: a) the server hardware, b) the marketing profile, c) the lawyer layer and d) exploitable user data.

The fact that the stock is "rising" or "dropping" in value is irrelevant: what is relevant, is that there is a stock, and that fb is in the stockmarket: it is essentially now an "immortal" in a corporate sense. Fb may very much so change ownership in the future, and perhaps even see a revamp of its logo (as in a "new-and-changed" product), and that may happen a lot: so the core of it, which is what investors are willing to pump money into, which is user data and profiles, will be "immortal" as well.

That alone guarantees that your data will never ever be deleted, as they have become a valuable commodity- and unless you are a "player" in the stockmarket, or a billionaire looking to acquire it, I don't see why you should care about fb stocks.

Re:Contrarian view... (1)

arcite (661011) | more than 2 years ago | (#40201409)

they will be immortal until they go bankrupt, or start to lose the various lawsuits, or until the big boys start pulling the plug once they have sucked enough muppet money from FB.

Disagree (3, Insightful)

LingNoi (1066278) | more than 2 years ago | (#40200361)

Facebook is probably one of the most well known brands in the world. A facebook branded phone would get lots of sales regardless of how well the phone performed.

Re:Disagree (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40200387)

So is Coca-Cola and McDonalds but I sure as hell wouldn't buy a phone of either of them.

Re:Disagree (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40200405)

So is Coca-Cola and McDonalds but I sure as hell wouldn't buy a phone of either of them.

No but I bet people would buy a drink carbonator from Coca-cola and a burger maker from McDonalds. Brands sell. People will see "Oh I like Facebook, I'll get that phone!", especially if it's cheap as people won't research their purchase the same.

Re:Disagree (0)

flyneye (84093) | more than 2 years ago | (#40200453)

I wish I could come up with a product that sells in such high numbers, but I'm just too damned moral.
I couldn't bring myself to sell cars even after training on a big lot for a month. I damn sure couldn't sucker even the most loathsome shmoe into buying the crap offered us by todays major corporations.

If facebook is so pathetically insecure, can you imagine the problems that switching to a phone interface will bring?
It's like breeding phreaks with black hats, I predict woe, doom, anarchy, hilarity and an abundance of messages from our sponsors.

Re:Disagree (5, Insightful)

AngryDeuce (2205124) | more than 2 years ago | (#40200617)

I had the same problem for the short time I was in a commissioned sales position. I simply could not sell people products and service packages that I knew they did not need, a fact that put me squarely on the shit list of the higher-ups in the department. I underwent a lot of "sales training" and "workshops" at their command, the main gist of them being "whatever the customer tells you they need, you tell them they need more and don't stop until they're so pissed off that there is a danger of losing the sale entirely."

As a customer, the "hard sell" always just turns me off, and I've seen first hand how much it turns off the bulk of the general public, so I really wonder where the hell people are seeing the success that warrants this mindset being pushed in the first place. Is it really worth one customer being upsold if we're alienating five other customers in the process? I guess it is to some people, but not to me...

Re:Disagree (1)

BagOCrap (980854) | more than 2 years ago | (#40200745)

Mod parent up. This is exactly why I prefer to keep my position as "sysadmin", rather than a "consultant".

FB phone? That would sure as hell no longer be a "smartphone".

Re:Disagree (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40201601)

I'm not a sales person, nor am I in a sales management role, but I'm in a position to see the financial results of "hard sell" tactics being used across a large portion of the population. Plain and simple, it works. And by "works", I mean, if you used a more reasoned approach you would make less money overall.

Sad really, but there are a lot of sheep out there in the masses.

Re:Disagree (5, Informative)

Surt (22457) | more than 2 years ago | (#40201675)

Commissioned sales are done exclusively in intensely competitive markets. Why? Because the only money to be made is off the suckers who will fall for high pressure sales. Even if you alienate the other 80% of the market, you're just driving them to your competitors, where their negotiating prowess will make them a net COST to your competitor. As an example, the moment a dealership figures out you are a '500 over dealer price' negotiator, they should stop talking to you. Their net on those deals is risking going negative (and the situation gets worse the longer it takes you to haggle them to that price, so it's best if they can figure you out quickly and send you on your way). That frees them up to focus on the people from whom they can actually extract some profit.

Re:Disagree (4, Interesting)

jbengt (874751) | more than 2 years ago | (#40202191)

Commissioned sales are done exclusively in intensely competitive markets. Why? Because the only money to be made is off the suckers who will fall for high pressure sales.

My experience is a counterexample. Commissioned sales is the norm in the construction industry, but that does not include suckers who fall for high pressure sales. On the contrary, the sellers relying on commissions are the ones who are pressured. They often help the buyers design the systems and select the equipment they are selling, yet still have to come with the low price under several other suppliers in order to get the sale. The buyers often play the sellers bids' against the others in order to lower the price of the equipment and materials they would prefer - or just go with the cheaper crap if they think they can get away with it.

Re:Disagree (1)

Deekin_Scalesinger (755062) | more than 2 years ago | (#40202269)

Exactly the same, which is why I am a crappy salesman but a half-decent technician.

Re:Disagree (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40200623)

Exactly. I'd be surprised if facebook diluted its own brand with a mediocre offering - instead I would expect them to product a semi-smartphone that works better with facebook than anything comparable phone on the market. They control the hardware and software at both ends, so seamless integration with facebook should be straightforward for their legions of programmers. If it doesn't work particularly well with the rest of the internet, more ad revenue for facebook.

Re:Disagree (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40202931)

Yes, because products like that have a direct relation to those companies. Facebook has absolutely no relation to phones.

Re:Disagree (2)

w.hamra1987 (1193987) | more than 2 years ago | (#40200419)

*you* wouldn't... the majority of the world's sheeple would be drooling at its sight, though...

Re:Disagree (1)

flyneye (84093) | more than 2 years ago | (#40200431)

But every Ronald McDonald phone you buy goes to help the children!
Won't you think of the children?

It's coming and probably wouldn't have if you hadn't posted the idea.
Butterfly effect in full force.

Re:Disagree (1)

WrongSizeGlass (838941) | more than 2 years ago | (#40200585)

So is Coca-Cola and McDonalds but I sure as hell wouldn't buy a phone of either of them.

Why not? I hear the apps are quite refreshing.

Re:Disagree (1)

DSW-128 (959567) | more than 2 years ago | (#40200969)

I want my Happy Meal phone!

Re:Disagree (1)

khallow (566160) | more than 2 years ago | (#40200485)

That's a pretty weak argument. Sure, it'll get a lot of sales. But frankly, they'll need more sales than merely a lot of sales in order for it to be worth the exercise. They're basically cashing in on the brand name for pennies on the dollar.

Re:Disagree (1)

arisvega (1414195) | more than 2 years ago | (#40200625)

A facebook branded phone would get lots of sales regardless of how well the phone performed.

I hear your point. Assuming they launch it, at some point it will become apparent that the spying, data-snooping, profiling and all the similar avenues of revenue for FB will have been integrated into the hardware.

As it is usually the case, when this whole (now hypothetical) scenario creates a new set of privacy violation scandals and legal issues, by the moment those issues have been addressed FB will have, as always, already had "gotten away with the loot" (read: further profiling of personal data and habits, which is the whole point).

Re:Disagree (1)

flyingsquid (813711) | more than 2 years ago | (#40203233)

Facebook is probably one of the most well known brands in the world. A facebook branded phone would get lots of sales regardless of how well the phone performed.

It's unquestionably a well-known brand, but a key part of branding is creating an identity that customers feel positively towards. And in terms of being trusted and liked by customers, Facebook is probably one of the worst brands in the world. The reason that Facebook can be successful despite this is because the company has a monopoly in this market. You can't easily leave and join a different social networking site, unless you could somehow figure out how to convince all your friends to join that site at the same time. So Facebook can act with complete disregard to consumer demands for privacy, because the customer really doesn't have the choice. In short, a lot of people use Facebook only because they like their friends more than they dislike Facebook. Or think of it as Zuckerberg throwing a party on a Saturday night- maybe he's an obnoxious jerk you wouldn't want to hang out with, but if he got all your friends to agree to go, then that's still gonna be the party you go to.

Facebook will continue to thrive, simply because people will continue to join and stay with the social network that has all their friends. But once customers actually have a choice between the Facebook brand and another brand- say, in choosing a smartphone- I think Facebook's brand will hurt them.

Duh (4, Funny)

AmiMoJo (196126) | more than 2 years ago | (#40200385)

Facebook is making a phone because Facebook is a huge brand and people will buy it just because it has the Facebook logo on the case. The target market is clueless Facebook users, the same ones who click "yes" when asked if they would like the latest Zynga crap to invade their privacy and waste their time.

Christ, Farhad Manjoo is thick.

Cool Factor (1)

V-similitude (2186590) | more than 2 years ago | (#40200801)

If they're making a phone, it's not a business decision; it's simply because Zuck sees it as a "cool" thing to do/have. That's all he's interested in, he has stated it explicitly.

Re:Duh (1)

wvmarle (1070040) | more than 2 years ago | (#40200811)

This is going on already. For a year or two at least.

Besides having Facebook, Gmail and other popular services advertised in the phone's description and feature list, local providers sell low-cost unlimited data plans for use on facebook and gmail mobile sites only (any other data use falls out of that plan).

Having the Facebook logo on the phone directly won't make much of a difference.

Re:Duh (5, Interesting)

rtfa-troll (1340807) | more than 2 years ago | (#40201023)

Facebook is making a phone because Facebook is a huge brand and people will buy it just because it has the Facebook logo on the case.

The thing about that is that mobile phones are incredibly difficult products. You can easily make a good in shop demo. The first few people may well buy the phone and try it. However, as Microsoft is finding out with Windows Phone, once the early adopters find they have a dud, no amount of marketing can fix that. Your phone is with you all the time; it represents you. If you pull out a Windows based mobile phone you look like a dork and people laugh at you behind your back. Bad mobile phones have a real potential to destroy great brands and have done so many times over; think of Ericsson, Benefon, Sendo, Siemens, Hewlett-Packard, etc. etc.Think about how Microsoft has fallen from about 38% smart phone market share to below 5% even with all their resources available. Think about how Nokia is being totally destroyed by their Windows Phone failures.

Facebook can make a success about this, but they will need many things:

  • at least one, preferably two of the tier one manufacturers; Samsung, HTC, Sony Ericsson or even Nokia*
  • a fully functional OS platform controlled by Facebook
  • a clear way to persuade the manufacturers that Facebook can't use that control against them
  • a complete mobile ecosystem
  • a way to differentiate strongly from Microsoft and Google
  • serious levels of developer involvement and open source efficiency
  • top levels of operator buy in

Microsoft is desperate enough that they might give Zuck a deal that looks almost good enough; certainly lots better than the deal Nokia seems to have got. However, I think Zuck already knows he's getting associated with being a loser and so the risk of such a deal would be far too great. In any case, Microsoft having brought Nokia down after the "Burning Platforms" memo; they will have great difficulty delivering even close to most of the points above and there's no real sign that they will ever get it together so there may be nothing that could ever fix their platform.

My feeling? This is possible, but you would have to do something like

  • Make an Android fork, but add in WebOS and/or Mer features to make it different
  • Move lots of new Android code under the GPLv3 or equivalent in order to stop Google from benefiting in turn
  • push lots of Facebook interfaces into the OS
  • Make a more iOS like walled garden app store than the Google one.

By going with Android binary compatibility Zuck would guarantee that he starts with the apps base he needs. By going with the GPLv3 he knows he will piss off Google who hates that license more than anything. By pissing off Google he will get allies and differentiation.

In the end, however, it's the operators who will decide. They know that there can be no more than three smartphone operating systems. They had hoped Microsoft would take over Blackberry's and Symbian's position as those two fail. With Microsoft's Skype strategy the operators became afraid that Microsoft will come for them. Now that MS is clearly going to fail in the market, they will be happy to look for a new alternative. A Facebook Android fork would look like a cheap way to get that.

* Motorola ruled out from potential partners since I doubt Google will play. Apple ruled out since I'm pretty sure they won't play. LG, NEC, ZTE etc. ruled out as just too small or too regional.

Re:Duh (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40202039)

FB would be better off buying RIM seeing the p/e is so nice anyway at this point [if they are serious about making instead of just pushing for further integration with the iphone which seems more likely] and they would need the actual manufacturing expertise. Forking Android doesnt really make much sense in FB's situation, if they aren't just happy being the social app for android/iphone they really need to go in head first on it and push it to the point where calls and text messaging is done for free [or through 4g/whatever intnernet connection you have] as a standard integrated feature.

Farhad Manjoo is pretty is pretty thick though.

Re:Duh (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40204521)

Sure, some people will buy it, but I doubt enough will to make it worthwhile. Coca-cola is also a huge brand, should they make a phone?

!news (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40200393)

Opinion pieces aren't news, much less news for nerds.
Slow day on the firehose, is it?

The FacePhone may be a dumb idea . . . (5, Insightful)

PolygamousRanchKid (1290638) | more than 2 years ago | (#40200395)

. . . but consumers are even dumber.

Re:The FacePhone may be a dumb idea . . . (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40201713)

I disagree. A phone is a fine idea.

People connect to Facebook and rely on it for everything. From trending articles, stories and features. Instant Messaging and email. Calender for events. You log into face book and you're connected to your social world. Most users don't need any other part of the internet because it's all there on Facebook. Who else is on Facebook? Just about all their friends, family and coworkers too. It's a safe, predictable and complete environment. With Facebook Messenger, people are using that more than txt messages. Carriers here also offer unlimited bandwidth for social networking already.

With the announcement that iOS 6 will be more tightly integrated with Facebook you'll see more of a shift. Users who can afford the iPhone and it's services will be plugged into Apple's and Facebook's world. Users who cannot will spring for the Facebook phone and at least get all the Facebook features they expect.

Re:The FacePhone may be a dumb idea . . . (1)

GameboyRMH (1153867) | more than 2 years ago | (#40202315)

Came here to say this. We would have said the same thing about the iPhone if we knew how hard it would suck (from a geek's POV) compared to the competition. See also: CmdrTaco's famous iPod vs. Nomad comparison.

block other social services? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40200409)

If it does happen would they follow Apples lead and not allow things that they consider duplicate or bad or what ever apples policy is for not allowing things. You know like facebook not allowing any other social network on the device since it would be redundant?

who is Farhad Manjoo (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40200411)

And why should I care what he thinks?

LOL (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40200567)

Fuckhead Manjuice?

Re:who is Farhad Manjoo (1)

k(wi)r(kipedia) (2648849) | more than 2 years ago | (#40200847)

The guy has a Wikipedia [wikipedia.org] page. Not that having a Wikipedia page should make a person important enough to care about. But I do rate Wikipedia higher than Facebook, as far as notability is concerned.

Re:who is Farhad Manjoo (4, Informative)

snsh (968808) | more than 2 years ago | (#40200855)

He's the guy who writes about how everyone doing space-space at the end of a sentence is "wrong".

Basically, he's a famous Troll.

Re:who is Farhad Manjoo (3, Informative)

AthanasiusKircher (1333179) | more than 2 years ago | (#40202809)

He's the guy who writes about how everyone doing space-space at the end of a sentence is "wrong".

Yep, and that article has been completely refuted as BS, at least in terms of its historical claims and the reasons why many modern publishers have mostly adopted a single-space standard. See, for example: http://www.heracliteanriver.com/?p=324 [heracliteanriver.com]

Basically, he's a famous Troll.

Pretty much.

Re:who is Farhad Manjoo (1)

furbearntrout (1036146) | more than 2 years ago | (#40201821)

He wrote True Enough: Learning to Live in a Post-Fact Society

And why should I care what he thinks?

Eh, why not?

irrelevant (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40200441)

Not to disagree with Farhad's thesis, but none the less, Farhad may be the worst tech pundit ever. At least pundits of yore, even where their crystal balls were a little cloudy, had some actual tech bona-fides and did at least a bit of original research. Things like, you know, ingratiating themselves into the tech industry they report on. Farhad sits at home and reads tech blogs and summarizes his opinions. You know, like anyone with a computer and an internet connection could do. And do do. You'll learn as much about the tech industry reading random slashdot comments as you ever will by reading Farhad. Maybe Farhad thinks he's doing actual reporting, a new age requires a new approach, blah blah. But the truth is, there's nothing there. Nothing original at all. Nothing but audience-seeking ad-revenue generating blather about popular tech topics. He's the Mary Elizabeth Williams of tech blogs: find out what people are talking about, assemble a bare modicum of knowledge with a few google searches, and write an opinion piece. Slate is completely wasting a perfectly good opportunity to inform and educate.
 

Dumb idea? (-1, Troll)

Hognoxious (631665) | more than 2 years ago | (#40200449)

Being called Tarhead Mango is a smart one?

dumb ideas often succeed (0, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40200451)

Never mind a Facebook phone.... *Facebook* is a dumb idea, and look at how that exploded in popularity.

The very dumbest ideas often seem to succeed wildly.

Re:dumb ideas often succeed (2)

gstrickler (920733) | more than 2 years ago | (#40200541)

FB is successful because it's orders of magnitude better than MySpace ever was. Despite it's flaws, it's far better than it's would be competitors.

Re:dumb ideas often succeed (1)

wvmarle (1070040) | more than 2 years ago | (#40200823)

Call me naive, but I've always seen MySpace as a souped-up version of geocities. IOW: a site where you could build up your own homepage. Not a site that's primarily for two-way communication (and try designing a nice "home page" on Facebook - you can't really do this). So I still don't really get all those comparisons between Facebook and MySpace.

Re:dumb ideas often succeed (2)

Nidi62 (1525137) | more than 2 years ago | (#40200621)

Facebook was actually a good idea, back when it first started. You had to have a .edu email address to join up, and it became a great way for high school friends that had split up to go to college to stay in touch. Once they started opening it to everyone, companies, and advertisers, it became a bad idea.

Re:dumb ideas often succeed (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40200711)

"became a great way for high school friends that had split up to go to college to stay in touch"

People were staying in touch with friends using the internet for decades before Facebook came and offered to do the same thing but with egregious privacy violations.

This seems to surprise many people, but it's possible to communicate online without using Facebook.

Re:dumb ideas often succeed (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40202193)

You completely misunderstood. Facebook was a place for high school friends who had lost touch to get back in touch and stay in touch. Finding who you wanted to find was easy - and everyone got on there really fast. And it's obviously a richer way to talk to everyone. Perhaps you don't get it because you're my parents' age and having a "get off my lawn" moment.

Social networks are here to stay. There will always be a single-most popular one for the general population, whether it's Facebook now or something else in the future. It provides something that otherwise doesn't exist - finding people, conveniently communicating and staying in touch with them, reading about them, seeing pictures of them, seeing what they're up to, etc.

Re:dumb ideas often succeed (1)

MagusSlurpy (592575) | more than 2 years ago | (#40200789)

The original business idea (ignoring the hot-or-not-style one night programming project origin) was to get people together that were in the same classes at their respective universities, but didn't know each other. That way, they could talk about tests, ask each other questions, that kind of thing. It was a great idea - and then they completely removed that option when they realized that only 10% of their user base was using that option, and the rest were just using it to stalk the hotties in their classes.

Re:dumb ideas often succeed (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40201463)

My university days were in 83-86, and all we had was email and FTP (lawn...), but it worked fine for talking about tests, asking questions, and that kind of thing. I see no reason wanting to communicate with people on the internet should require selling out your privacy to someone wanting to make a buck from it.

Re:dumb ideas often succeed (1)

MagusSlurpy (592575) | more than 2 years ago | (#40203951)

Ah, but for email to work, you had to have someone collect emails on a list first. Plus, email didn't provide photos to help you put faces to names of your sometimes 40+ classmates.

And when Facebook started, it wasn't the huge data-mining operation it is now. Likes, statuses, apps , locations - none of those existed when Facebook started. It was your college, and your current classes (your previous semesters were archived but available), and a few photos. Hell, I remember classmates laughing when they added the two-word drop-down menu statuses, about how much the FBI was paying to know when "Jim is 'sleeping,'" "Jim is 'at work,'" and "Jim is 'in class.'"

What? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40200459)

Really? I would have thought that a phone made by a company that has a single software product would be a good idea.

Hmmm (1)

Richard_at_work (517087) | more than 2 years ago | (#40200469)

So what would be the point in using the Facebook phone? Well, remember, it will be cheap. But so are lots of Android phones. If Facebook makes a phone, then, the device will necessarily spark a battle for the low end of the phone market, with each company offering ever-cheaper devices in the hopes of cashing in on some future advertising bonanza.

So why doesnt that apply to anyone looking to launch a new Android phone, or why didnt it apply when Android entered the market after the iPhone?

Re:Hmmm (0)

Swampash (1131503) | more than 2 years ago | (#40200685)

So why doesnt that apply to anyone looking to launch a new Android phone, or why didnt it apply when Android entered the market after the iPhone?

It does. That's why the top-selling phones in the USA are, in order, the iPhone 4S, the iPhone 4, and the iPhone 3G. That's why profits in the mobile industry are divided into Apple's 75% and everyone else scrabbling over the remaining 25%.

Re:Hmmm (1)

Richard_at_work (517087) | more than 2 years ago | (#40201143)

The point I was making was why isn't the arrival of yet another Android phone derided in the same manner as the phone concept in this story? Why wasn't the arrival of Android in the first place derided, as it is having exactly the same effect as discussed in this story...

Re:Hmmm (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40203991)

That's why the top-selling phones in the USA are, in order, the iPhone 4S, the iPhone 4, and the iPhone 3G

Liar. Sales figures show that you are completely wrong. iPhones don't even figure in the top five. Pathetic.

  • Samsung lg l700 , ~9 Million
  • Samsung Galaxy S2 , ~6 Million
  • Nokia Lumia 900 , ~5 Million
  • HTC One X , ~2 Million

- Citation [wikipedia.org]

That's why profits in the mobile industry are divided into Apple's 75%

I've always wondered about this, so I'll just ask you. Why do you jizz your pants about overpaying for a shitty out of date phone just because it pads Apple's bottom line? You realize that those billions in revenue are marketing-driven and based on getting suckers like you to pay enormous markups on generic hardware and buggy, insecure software? Watching an iPhone get rooted just by visiting a web page with a PDF embedded showed me just how much Apple cares about code quality and security: not at all. As long as enough shiny hardware and broken software is sold, your safety and privacy don't matter at all

Scientific research has show that iPhanboys are the same as religious christians. I suppose it's only a matter of time until you start morons start self-immolating, something I will wholeheartedly endorse.

Cheap? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40200517)

I just got a completely free phone and am only paying $10 a month with a company in Oregon. Now beat that!

Not dumb at all (5, Interesting)

zome (546331) | more than 2 years ago | (#40200523)

This is what facebook will do to their phone. It will create a new phone platform with its own API. This API will be compatible with the phone AND the web. In another word, you write a game using this API once, and it will run in your browser, and on your phone. When people make in-game purchase, facebook gets a cut. This is how they will make money on the mobile platform. They won't make any money if facebook is just an app on any phone facebook doesn't own. This is why MarkZ is worrying.

Given that there are far more facebook users than iphone or android combined, if you are mobile game/app developer, would you write your program using this API? I would. Suddenly, facebook can compete with iOS and android for developers attentions. Something RM and MS are trying so hard to do for sometime.

Re:Not dumb at all (1)

dontclapthrowmoney (1534613) | more than 2 years ago | (#40200599)

I agree that making a phone is better than doing nothing. And facebook has a locked-in user base to leverage, if they played their cards right (I'm not betting money on this.)

I'm surprised they aren't planning to make a bargain basement 10" tablet (also). And their user base is already used to their products being crud, so they could go in very cheap on the quality and no-one would be overly surprised.

I'd love to see a reliable poll on how many people who use facebook regularly were pleased to see the share price tank...

Re:Not dumb at all (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40200751)

"Locked-in user base"? Not when it comes to phones, there they have nothing.

Only ONE little itty bitty problem (0)

arcite (661011) | more than 2 years ago | (#40201437)

The phone will not be cheap, Apple and Samsung have production cornered. Apple and Samsung also make all the profits. FB would not be able to sell the phone cheap enough to make enough profit...unless they intend to make a loss on each unit and make up for it in volume....LOL. I'm sure some muppet investors would still be up for that option however.

I doubt it would have a Facebook 'app' (1)

rjforster (2130) | more than 2 years ago | (#40200527)

Instead the whole interface will be facebook. If you want to talk to someone, select them from your facebook friends. etc. Apply as appropriate to all other activities you do with smartphones. Other phone systems will still have the facebook 'app' but it will have worse features which will just encourage people to swap to a facebook phone.
You status could be constantly updated with who you are talking with or having multi-text conversations with or even where you are travelling to because it knows your calendar, 'likes', route searches and GPS data. Let's face it, if I have already spread the information that I am excited about going to a concert then if on the day of the concert the phone detects that I'm getting closer and closer to the venue then what is the (extra) harm in sharing that location information?

Not sure if the targetted ads will be (partly) based on info gleaned from voice recognition keywords as well as everything you type and look at but if I was an evil ad broker then that's what I would do if I could get away with it.

But what do I know? I don't have a facebook account.

Re:I doubt it would have a Facebook 'app' (1)

vux984 (928602) | more than 2 years ago | (#40203337)

But what do I know? I don't have a facebook account.

On the upside, then no one with a fb phone could call you... seeing as ...

"If you want to talk to someone, select them from your facebook friends. etc."

Caring what Farhad Manjoo thinks a Dumb Idea (5, Insightful)

MasterPatricko (1414887) | more than 2 years ago | (#40200553)

Says random Slashdot poster

Re:Caring what Farhad Manjoo thinks a Dumb Idea (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40204409)

This. The dude is nothing more than a troll who drums up pageviews with factually incorrect nonsense. What he thinks about the mobile industry? Not my concern, move along.

Who is Farhad Manjoo? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40200589)

And why should I care about his opinion?

Is this guy a prominent business person? Someone involved in the telecomm industry? An entrepreneur with a dozen tech companies in his portfolio? Or just some reporter desperate to get some page views?

Re:Who is Farhad Manjoo? (2)

unixisc (2429386) | more than 2 years ago | (#40200713)

Precisely what I was wondering. /. just dropped his name like he was a Brin, Page, Cerf or someone of that fame.

Re:Who is Farhad Manjoo? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40204503)

Just another poor-quality journalist that we call a blogger. He probably submitted this article. He's an attention whore, nothing more.

I couldn't care less. (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40200643)

Who the fuck is Farhad Manjoo? And why the fuck should I listen to him? What the hell, Slashdot.

integration? (2)

sribe (304414) | more than 2 years ago | (#40200665)

As far as I can tell, this entire rumor started because FaceBook was allegedly having discussions with and/or recruiting former/current iPhone/Android engineering staff. Which would also be the case if they were looking to integrate FaceBook and services deeper into the core software of phones--which would make a lot more sense.

FB Phone OS (1)

k(wi)r(kipedia) (2648849) | more than 2 years ago | (#40201025)

I kinda agree. If there's some truth to the rumor, Facebook is likely planning to rebrand or re-spin (a la Fedora) a smartphone OS with tight Facebook integration. This wouldn't be far from what Google is already doing when it "gives away" Android. Google profits not from selling the OS but in winning an audience for its ad services or data mining projects.

But why go to the trouble of selling a whole phone? Making hardware is a far riskier business than administering a web site, while relatively minimal investment is necessary to replace Google search or Google Play with its Facebook search and app store equivalent. Maybe Facebook will come up with a limited-edition Nexus-like phone but it would be corporate suicide for it to go head to head with the likes of Samsung, HTC or Google Motorola. (Suggested name for the FaceBook phone OS: the FaceBOSS.)

Re:FB Phone OS (1)

sribe (304414) | more than 2 years ago | (#40203977)

If the grandaddy of all smartphone makers was still around, we could get the FacePALM. On the other hand, RIMM is floundering around looking for a new place in the market, so maybe the BlackFace. (Cue RIMM shot here...)

A smart phone for less smart people (5, Interesting)

swb (14022) | more than 2 years ago | (#40200687)

The Facebook phone is for people who look at the Internet and communications through a social media lens. They aren't thinking about a smart phone from a technology perspective or even so much as an app perspective. For them, their phone (likely a feature phone with a slideout keyboard, used primarily for texting) is really a social connector used to send text messages. For them, the internet is the web only and social media almost exclusively. They use Facebook a lot, and Facebook messaging and chat instead of email and IM.

  I think there are a lot of people out there like this, especially in less well educated circles, lower income groups, among younger people and the technologically unsophisticated.

I know people who had computers but seldom used them -- emailing them was never a good idea, they might read email once a week. Once they discover Facebook, they're on the computer all the time, but almost exclusively on Facebook. It's become their predominant computer activity.

Their cell phone? Probably some ancient flip. When their carrier EOLs it and they have to upgrade, they might find a Facebook phone -- subsidized by advertising to keep it cost competitive with the lowest end phones from both a device AND service perspective.

Anyway, I think this locus of groups would probably find a Facebook phone appealing. To anyone else who remotely knows what a smartphone is or has a use for one otherwise? A non-starter. But thinking of a Facebook phone only in terms of direct competition with other phones is a mistake.

Re:A smart phone for less smart people (1)

Mashiki (184564) | more than 2 years ago | (#40202047)

The Facebook phone is for people who look at the Internet and communications through a social media lens.

Nope, the facebook phone is for those suffering from a classic case of NPD. [wikipedia.org]

Actually .... it is called an Android phone (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40202803)

The smartphone for not so smart people who want to pretend that they are smart while investing on an unstable, sluggish crap.

Re:A smart phone for less smart people (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40203659)

I agree, but I think it is worth noting that "They use Facebook a lot, and Facebook messaging and chat instead of email and IM." is even more important than it seems at first: Smartphones offer an opportunity for more flexible social apps, which could compete with Facebook. On a smartphone, a Facebook status update and a Twitter status update more or less look identical, so there is a very low barrier to entry for just adding yet another social app to your smartphone (see: Instagram). On a Facebook phone, there wouldn't be apps for competing social networks.

Only purpose of this could be... (1)

adosch (1397357) | more than 2 years ago | (#40200733)

That watching your FB stock lose value in the 'beeeeeellions' must have a more smoothing comfortableness to Zuckerberg on a 5"x3" screen versus a 27.5" screen. Smaller screen == Loses 'feeling' smaller than they are.

Oh and about the phone? Horrible idea.

I wouldn't buy it but... (1)

sudden.zero (981475) | more than 2 years ago | (#40200839)

for someone who is really into Face Book it might be desirable, that is assuming that it will have special features, pertaining to face book, that you can't get on any flavor of android Face Book app. I mean if it has some sort of built in face book GUI that is much better than android apps in comparison, has ways to manage games such as Farmville and the likes I can actually see it being a hit regardless of phone quality based solely on the ease of Face Book management.

New Facebook phone is the iPhone (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40200897)

If iOS 6 is really going to integrate Facebook system-wide as persistant rumors claim (http://www.macrumors.com/2012/06/01/ios-6-to-bring-systemwide-facebook-integration/), it seems like the Facebook phone is really just the iPhone.

It wouldn't make sense for Apple to integrate Facebook into iOS (and possibly even OS X) if Facebook is setting itself up to be a direct competitor in the phone hardware business. And what is in it for Facebook to get into the hardware business?

Pointless (1)

whisper_jeff (680366) | more than 2 years ago | (#40201069)

Ignoring the fact that I don't know who this guy is and why I should care about his opinion on Facebook or mobile phones, I'm not going to read the article because of this choice quote:

...spark a battle for the low end of the phone market, with each company offering ever-cheaper devices...

Cheaper? Cheaper than free? The low end of the mobile market is dominated by _FREE_ phones. And we're not talking about garbage throw-away phones - you can get an iPhone 4, which is far from a piece of garbage, for free on many carriers. Of course Android has a wide selection of phones that are available for free from all carriers out there as well. The two dominant smartphone platforms have free offerings - are they going to start paying people to take their phones now?

Sorry, but if someone doesn't get such a basic concept of how the mobile market works - namely that the cheapest phones (notice the plural there) on the market are $0.00 and there's nothing really cheaper than free - then I am pretty certain I don't care one iota what he has to say in regards to anything.

Huh... (0, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40201071)

I had Farhad Manjoo once. The doctor told me to stop jerking off so much and it went away.

Re:Huh... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40202731)

More like Farthead Manpoo if you ask me.

Social Phone (1)

tuppe666 (904118) | more than 2 years ago | (#40201107)

Ignoring the fact that Facebook could benefit from having a phone that provides better content for them..easier input to phone through sylus/keyboard/camera, Have a larger screen to get those adverts people keep talking about without distracting from the content.

Ignoring the fact that Facebook is going to have to compete directly against Google+ as Google embed more social into their platform...that has been dominant for all but the most faithful Apple Fanboy.

Facebook could create a social phone. I personally find the whole idea terrifying but to the suitably narcissistic, and there does seem to be more of them than me. A smartphone is exciting because its always connected...A social phone could be so so much more, think about having zero privacy, your own permanent cctv and electronic tag combined focused solely on you, and the ability to get that information about your friends...or people you admire/like being admired.

It's the data plan... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40201203)

Smartphones with $50+/month data plans are reaching saturation in the US at around 50% of the market. If you're willing to pay for one, you probably have one. Growing the market is going to require new incentives in terms of pricing. A "toll-free" or "zero-rating" system where access is paid for by the destination rather than the source is one possibility. FB with its payment platform is a logical candidate for delivering such a system.

Imaging paying $300 for a phone and $10/month with your social networking information subsidizing your data plan....

It'd be expensive to develop the integration and to bootstrap it, but they have the money for it.

It might work (2)

sokk (691010) | more than 2 years ago | (#40201707)

Considering all the technology Facebook has accrued directly and through partners a phone with a lot of nice features should be possible for them to implement. It's also a logical next step. Phones are social nodes in themselves, and mapping the Facebook 'world-in-a-world' onto this should be possible.

It could even be data-only if they wanted to (wifi/data traffic), but I don't think they would take it that far.

Technology mapping from the Facebook's technology chest to the mobile:
Text messaging - Replaced/complemented by Facebook Messenger
Audio chat - Integrated Skype version
Video chat - Integrated Skype version (Technology now in the hands of MS/Skype. Apple has shown us that this is feasible)
Group video chat / audio chat - Integrated Skype version.
Status of your friends reflected on your phone (Eg. approx. location, busy, last locations visited).
Contact list - Facebook friends.

electronic currency (1)

bramez (190835) | more than 2 years ago | (#40202209)

they should turn it into a platform for electronic payments between people, a Facebook electronic currency. you prepay an amount to Facebook, then you can transfer money between facebook accounts using NFC or barcode scanning.

Competition is good (1)

Tough Love (215404) | more than 2 years ago | (#40202231)

If Facebook wants to invest some of its IPO billions competing with Google in the open source phone market then let it. Ideally, Facebook will compete by making its Linux phone development actually open instead of fake open, and thereby blow past Google in terms of fit and finish and usability, with the help of ten times the developer base and ten times less corporate drone UI design. I don't see any reason why one advertising based tech gorilla should make an open source phone and another not.

On the other hand, if Facebook intends to make a phone with an even more closed development model than Google, then Facebook can go to hell.

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