Rumors that Facebook has been working on its own smartphone have been around for more than a year now. Last fall, a report came out that the social network had tapped HTC to help it build the handset.

Since then, the speculation has only gotten louder. Yesterday, Bloomberg even threw its hat into the ring. But this afternoon, Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg decided to squash the chatter…

Today, Facebook held its first earnings call after going public back in May. And Zuckerburg was on hand to talk about the company’s performance over the past three months, and field questions from analysts and investors.

With all of the phone rumors flying about, you knew the question would come up: what is the future of Facebook’s mobile strategy?

The CEO responded:

“We want to not just have apps that people use, but also be as deeply integrated into these systems as possible. We want to support a development ecosystem where other apps can build on top of Facebook, so that’s why you’ll see us do things like support Apple in the iOS integration they wanted to do. There are lots of things that you can build in other operating systems as well that aren’t really like building out a whole phone, which I think wouldn’t really make much sense for us to do.”

While Zuckerberg’s answer seems to effectively squash the Facebook phone rumors, as BusinessInsider‘s Steve Kovach points out, it still leaves the door wide open for a Facebook operating system.

The company could be using those poached Apple engineers to build a platform that other hardware manufacturers, like HTC, could build upon. And between the ongoing Android lawsuits, and Windows Phone struggling for marketshare, the list of interested parties is probably a lot longer than you think.