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Bloomberg Reports Facebook Building Android Smartphones 63

Posted by timothy
from the much-of-a-muchness dept.
destinyland writes "Reports are surfacing of a Facebook-backed smartphone running Google's Android system, built by INQ (who also manufactures a phone for Skype). GigaOm's Om Malik says he's been aware of the project 'for quite some time,' and Bloomberg News (linked above) reported that Facebook will release two AT&T smartphones in 2011, first in Europe and then in America. (Adding that 25% of Facebook users access the social networking site with their wireless devices.) " Whether it's pure semantics or pure misdirection, as of yesterday, Facebook acknowledges work with INQ, but describes the collaboration as customization, rather than a phone of their own.
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Bloomberg Reports Facebook Building Android Smartphones

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  • Tinfoil hat time (Score:2, Interesting)

    Google and facebook, two of the most scandalous purveyors of communication, together on one mobile device that is with you everywhere you go...
    • by hex0D (1890162) on Sunday September 26, 2010 @04:09PM (#33705072)

      Google and facebook, two of the most scandalous purveyors of communication

      ...hysterical much? Sure Google and Facebook have issues, and the potential to be truly evil, the only reason they are even ever referred to as 'scandalous' is because their misbehavior has been an exception to the rule of generally decent behavior.

      What 'purveyor of communication' would you prefer? J Randolf Hearst's 'yellow journalism', or Fox News, getting us into wars that actually kill people?

  • by pecosdave (536896) * on Sunday September 26, 2010 @04:01PM (#33705022) Homepage Journal

    Does this mean that Facebook is finally going to build a mobile phone interface that doesn't just outright suck?

    I used the Facebook client for the iPhone when I had an iPhone. It was buggy as hell and left something to be desired. It improved towards the end of my using an iphone, but I must say it still wasn't that great, still had caching and sync issues. I found I was much better off using Safari on all but a few specialized task, but that sucked also.

    Now I'm using an EVO 4G. The Facebook program that came with it sucked rocks. It was arguable worse than the iPhone one, because instead of giving me out of date garbage cache, it gave me nothing most of them. That or code errors. I updated to a newer version yesterday, seems to be a little better but I haven't really put it to the test. I've been doing just like I did with the iPhone with my Android phone, using one or the other depending on my task at hand. Still at the end of the day it's sort of random as to getting everything or not.

    BTW - I've never been happier to ditch Apple, I far prefer Android.

    I think it's going to be hilarious if Facebook releases a phone that does everything but Facebook well.

    • by VJ42 (860241) *

      Does this mean that Facebook is finally going to build a mobile phone interface that doesn't just outright suck?

      If they do the same as with the INQ 1 [wikipedia.org] then the facebook integration will be seamless, the rest of the interface was mediocre at best though; hopefully the Android base for this phone will solve that problem.

      • by pecosdave (536896) *

        I actually bought the Linksys Iphone (yes, a Linksys Iphone) from Comp USA for $75 when they had the going out of business sale. Other than the little navigation nub losing its rubber point it was great, I loved it, then hurricane Ike soaked it. Never tried the INQ 1.

        • by VJ42 (860241) *
          Don't get me wrong, the INQ1 is a great phone - fast (HSDPA), cheap and with great social media integration.
          It's no smart phone though, so it's interface is only as good as other phones in the same price range & no touch screen. But at IIRC ~£60 on Pay as you go, I'm not complaining.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by garcia (6573)

      I used the Facebook client for the iPhone when I had an iPhone. It was buggy as hell and left something to be desired. It improved towards the end of my using an iphone, but I must say it still wasn't that great, still had caching and sync issues.

      I guess we all have different opinions on the topic but the Facebook application for the iPhone, for me, is 1000x better than the web interface. In fact, I'd rather visit Facebook via my phone than the website any day. Less clutter, no ads, no bullshit, and I can

      • I guess we all have different opinions on the topic but the Facebook application for the iPhone, for me, is 1000x better than the web interface. In fact, I'd rather visit Facebook via my phone than the website any day. Less clutter, no ads, no bullshit, and I can get shit done quickly--in and out--like websites were meant to be.

        Allow me to introduce your PC-based surfing to a little app called "firefox", with its addon friends "noscript" and "adblockplus". I absolutely love how they make my surfing experience faster - not downloading all the flash and graphical ads makes pages load ten times faster. (Yes, even facebook!)

        Now, all I need to do is find a decent plugin for streaming together those articles that for some reason get broken up into one page per paragraph, and I'll be all set.

        • by garcia (6573)

          I have AdBlock running. It doesn't get rid of all the other shit like "we suggest you like this commercial entity's page". It's a fucking ad plain and simple.

          • by znerk (1162519)

            I have AdBlock running. It doesn't get rid of all the other shit like "we suggest you like this commercial entity's page". It's a fucking ad plain and simple.

            Not sure which ads specifically you're referring to, unfortunately, but there are addons to deal with textual ads, as well.

            Not sure exactly what you're bitching about, to be honest, since the problem as I understood it was mainly the flash-based ads that shout at you or have other annoying sounds to "attract your attention".

      • by gmhowell (26755) <gmhowell@gmail.com> on Sunday September 26, 2010 @07:59PM (#33706666) Homepage Journal

        Given the disturbing level of nerd arrogance on slashdot, I'm amazed that your opinion wasn't automatically dismissed and modded down while 'people' questioned your parentage, the sexual practice of your mother, and your sexual orientation while simultaneously threatening bodily harm and various forced sexual acts on you due not only to having a Facebook account, and not only having a preferred method of access, but for committing that most cardinal of Slashdot sins: owning an iPhone.

    • Pity about your timing; the iPhone version is finally stable and pretty useful.

      • by pecosdave (536896) *

        I moved to Android about three weeks ago.

        I ditched the iPhone not because of the crappy Facebook interface - really, not the top of my priority list - but because of Apple's and AT&T's hubris. Apple practices the art of lock-in like a martial art these days and have a real "we don't care what the complaints are" attitude. The only real difference between Apple of today and Microsoft of 1998 is that Apple's products actually work well and there are alternative available. Oddly, Microsoft seems to be s

    • by Threni (635302)

      The official Facebook app for Android sucks, but there a quite a few alternatives.

    • The Facebook Beta webOS app works nice on my PalmPre.
      Wel, it helps that most webOS are basically HTML5/Javascript aplications, so doing a webOS doesn't necessarily require rewriting a new native app in C/C++ or Java.
      the FB app for webOS is simply http://x.facebook.com/ [facebook.com] re-skinned to use native widgets, and taking advantage of some of the webOS abilities (photo galleries, background/status bar alerts, drop down menus...)
      it just lacks some features (more advanced galleries like on http://m.facebook.com/ [facebook.com] , or

  • wait (Score:2, Insightful)

    by darrenkopp (981266)
    they can't even make a decent facebook application for android... how are they going to make an android phone?
  • Will people really want this? With all the privacy gaffes FB has made, a phone, with GPS etc. - letting FB know/broadcast/phone-home where you are at all times - seems like it could raise too many red flags for some consumers to want to buy a device from them. Perhaps the average consumer doesn't care though. ?
    • Re:privacy..... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by bennomatic (691188) on Sunday September 26, 2010 @04:30PM (#33705206) Homepage
      They've got 500 million users; even if just 0.2% of those users decide that they love FB so much they need the official phone, that's a million sales. Probably more profitable than if they tried to sell Mark Zuckerberg bobble head dolls.
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by hedwards (940851)
        Actually, Zuckerber bobble heads would work. Whether you love or hate Facebook, I'm sure you could find a use for one.
        • I'm sure they would work, but I think that a branded phone has a greater profit potential. I mean, how much would you pay for a Zuck doll, and how many would you buy?
  • Data mining (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Wowsers (1151731) on Sunday September 26, 2010 @04:14PM (#33705110) Journal

    And how much data-mining will they do to the call information? Let's face it, Facebook has an awful reputation for privacy.

  • Super Sweet (Score:5, Funny)

    by EdIII (1114411) on Sunday September 26, 2010 @04:15PM (#33705124)

    I believe the customization part.

    Considering there audience though, I find it really, REALLY, hard to believe there will not be "feed your chickens" and "harvest your crops" buttons directly on the phone itself.

    Thinking about push communications technology I can further see that the buttons would be backlit when it was actually needed. Ohhhh! We could even make hungry chicken noises as alerts!

    • by iammani (1392285) on Sunday September 26, 2010 @05:42PM (#33705580)

      Good, now I could easily identify whom to stay away from.

    • The vision that Mark Zuckerberg talks about is using Facebook as a personal computing/communication platform. The way I read this is not that the Facebook app would be front and center, but rather that you would buy a phone, take it out of the box, log into Facebook, and have all your contacts in your address book, all your bookmarks in your browser, all your photos in your photo app, etc. I imagine this could extend to regular PCs/tablets/laptops too.

      It's not for me, but I can kind of see the point.
      • The vision that Mark Zuckerberg talks about is using Facebook as a personal computing/communication platform. The way I read this is not that the Facebook app would be front and center, but rather that you would buy a phone, take it out of the box, log into Facebook, and have all your contacts in your address book, all your bookmarks in your browser, all your photos in your photo app, etc. I imagine this could extend to regular PCs/tablets/laptops too.

        It's not for me, but I can kind of see the point. Lots of people struggle to set up a phone or computer, so having all the data that a normal person uses day-to-day be portable across the devices that a normal person uses is not a bad idea. The success will depend entirely on the implementation and how it works over time. I suspect Facebook knows this and will not sabotage their investment by taking any shortcuts. But who knows.

        In any case, there's pretty much no chance that a traditional Facebook app such as Farmville will be beeping at you in the middle of the night. That's not the point of this endeavor at all.

        Just to reply to myself and add one more thing -- If this is indeed the vision for some of Facebook's future efforts, then there is the obvious potential pain point of storing and porting non-Facebook data. If this means that Facebook opens up and competes on features/ui/speed/etc rather than on lock-in and network effect, that is a good thing.

  • Nothing new here (Score:4, Informative)

    by VJ42 (860241) * on Sunday September 26, 2010 @04:15PM (#33705130)
    I've got the INQ 1 phone [wikipedia.org] - it was also sold as a product of collaboration between INQ and facebook, billed as "the facebook phone" as it was only £60, i.e. not smartphone territory, but mass market - I hope this is more of the same; a mass market Android phone would be great.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by hex0D (1890162)
      I'd be totally OK with facebook subsidizing some the cost of new phone; just because they intend it for use on facebook doesn't mean a lot of clever folks won't find ways to repurpose it.

      And yeah, this seems about as newsworthy as the TV they keep advertising that allows you to tweet and post to FB from your sofa and has dedicated buttons on the remote. BFD.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      Holy crap.

      The INQ1 is what the Kin should've been. Cheap, fast, lightweight with 3G connectivity and Facebook/Twitter integration?

      • by VJ42 (860241) *

        Holy crap.

        The INQ1 is what the Kin should've been. Cheap, fast, lightweight with 3G connectivity and Facebook/Twitter integration?

        Twitter came with INQ's next two phones*, they somehow managed to forget it on the INQ 1, but for their first ever handset I can forgive them that.

        *I haven't got them but I have seen them in the 3 mobile shop at mass market price: INQ mini 3G [wikipedia.org] and INQ Chat 3G [wikipedia.org]

    • by Andy Smith (55346)

      Another example is the "San Francisco" handset from UK carrier Orange. It's a cheapish-n-surprisingly-cheerful Android phone with 800x480 screen for around £100.
      http://shop.orange.co.uk/mobile-phones/San-Francisco-from-Orange-in-grey [orange.co.uk]

    • by IBBoard (1128019)

      I'm not sure which INQ my brother has, but it was sold on a similar concept - Twitter/Facebook, but not full smart phone. I think he curses it pretty much every day for various features that it mishandles or just outright doesn't have that seem so obvious.

      Mass-market Androids are on their way down, though. I was in a shop the other day and saw an LG at £100 on PAYG. Given that the HTCs are up at £300+ then it is definitely much closer to a mass-market price.

      • by VJ42 (860241) *

        I'm not sure which INQ my brother has, but it was sold on a similar concept - Twitter/Facebook, but not full smart phone. I think he curses it pretty much every day for various features that it mishandles or just outright doesn't have that seem so obvious.

        Mass-market Androids are on their way down, though. I was in a shop the other day and saw an LG at £100 on PAYG. Given that the HTCs are up at £300+ then it is definitely much closer to a mass-market price.

        Indeed, the INQ1 has no twitter integration*, has problems with some rss feeds (including /.) and if you actually leave any of the apps on, the battery life is appalling. Still at ~£60 instead of ~£300 for an HSPDA phone with skype that I can check my Gmail, facebook etc. on I'm not complaining. All in all for a debut handset I was impressed, so if their 'droid phone comes here I'll be sure to at least take a look.

        *IIRC they corrected at least this obvious oversight on their next two phones;

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Facebook will release two AT&T smartphones in 2011

    You lost me at "facebook"... and then again at "AT&T"...

    I mean... the two companies I've managed to avoid for the last few years teaming up... wow. So how will this work? Will their phone calls route straight to AT&T's secret rooms [wired.com] or will that be an opt-out privacy option that I won't be able to find in the settings and that will then revert back to "in" three months later?

    • Bloomberg News (linked above) reported that Facebook will release two AT&T smartphones in 2011, first in Europe and then in America.

      For me, the article lost me when it said Facebook was going to release its AT&T phone first in Europe? I didn't even realize that AT&T was selling phones in Europe. Anyway, I hope this means that AT&T will stop charging $21,000 to the vacationers that forget to turn off data roaming while in Europe.

  • Just great, just what I need...calling someone and them not answering because they are on Phoneville.
  • by Chocolate Teapot (639869) * on Sunday September 26, 2010 @04:31PM (#33705208) Journal
    Your wife just commented on a picture posted on your secretary's MMS
    kjsmith [kjsmith.co.uk] and 6 other lawyers like this
  • What is the non-technical meaning of the word "semantics"? Non-linguists seem to use it to mean "deceptive, distractingly nitpicking, or misleading speech." Is that what it's meant to mean in the summary?
  • I think this very well explain why the Facebook Android App is so bad.

    It auto loads images whether you want it or not and all notifications link to the touch.facebook.com homepage.

    (Not to speak of the "always keep phone awake draining battery"-bug that the last version suffered from).

    • by JackAxe (689361)
      Or it will mean that their phone is equally as bad. What bothers me along with their app being crap, is that I can't uninstall it from my Nexus One without rooting it. The dam thing is read only... *grumbles*
  • If this has been going on "for some time", then I can only assume they have been overtaken by events.

    The Facebook app for Android is pretty well featured, and the default Contacts app hooks in to it if you choose to FB authenticate. So you can see the last status update of all your contacts.

    I don't see why they need a dedicated Facebook/Android handset... unless it's a marketing exercise, or they are trying to make the FB status updates/notifications more intrusive. Just seems to me like they are taking the

  • Or your can swap the first and third letters.
  • Support Android, and by doing so support Facebook? Or ditch Facebook, and by doing so ditch Android? Eh. I'll stick with my Droid for now, thankyouverymuch.
  • You can read the long and not very interesting interview [techcrunch.com] but if you can believe anything Zuckerberg says, they're building a framework for mobile devices that lets apps hook into the FB social network. They don't have the time to build their own OS, so it'll probably be on Android.

    They wish everything supported HTML5 so they could stop writing platform-specific apps, but recognize the realities of the market.

    It was a couple days ago, but that seems to be all I got out of it.

  • How about a netbook called FaceBook? Or a co-branded release of Firefox or Chrome called FaceBrowser?

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