Rumor: Facebook to announce mobile OS next week

By , Jan 12, 2013

facebook phone

The Facebook Phone is one of the longest-running urban legends in the tech world. I can remember it being reported on as far back as 2010, and I’m sure it goes back further than that. But thus far, nothing has materialized, and Mark Zuckerberg himself has even denied its existence.

Despite all of this, a new report is out today claiming that the social network indeed has a handset in the works. And according to the usual “sources familiar with the matter,” it’s going to use its just-announced January 15th media event to unveil it to the world…

TechCrunch’s well-connected columnist M.G. Siegler reports:

“In The Lord of the Rings, when Sauron’s forces capture Gollum, they torture him in Mordor but are only able to get two things out of him: “Shire” and “Baggins”. Over the past few days, we’ve had similar frustrations in trying to track down the content of the Facebook event taking place this coming Tuesday. Despite hounding a number of people who might be in the know, the only discernible things we were able to come up with was: “big deal” and “mobile”.

Interesting, but way too vague. But we endured. And now we have a bit more information. And that information points to a Facebook Phone …of some sort.”

Now, Siegler is quick to point out that there have been several reports about the fabled ‘Facebook Phone’ over the years, and none of them have come to pass. But he also says that he has been told, by multiple sources, that Facebook is going to announce a phone of some sort next week.

Underline “of some sort,” because it doesn’t seem like much is known about the project. It could be new hardware and software — remember, HTC was rumored to be working on a Facebook handset at one point. Or it could be just the software, more specifically a Facebook operating system.

As for the hardware, if there is hardware, you’d think Facebook just outsourced it to a major manufacturer (like HTC). Facebook doesn’t have much of a background in that field. And as for the software, Siegler outlines three different possible scenarios for how it could do an OS.

“What about the OS itself? How would Facebook do it? Details are slim here as well, but the obvious answer would be a fork of Android. This would allow the OS to run hundreds of thousands of apps already out there. With Amazon seeing some success doing this with their Kindle Fire tablets (and soon their own phone as well), this could have emboldened Facebook to make the move now.”

Additionally, Facebook could also go with WebOS. Even though HP’s been seemingly doing everything they can to run the platform into the ground, they did just open-source it. So it is a possibility. And the third, less likely, option would be for Facebook to build its own OS from scratch.

It’s tough, you know. It’s tough to believe a rumor like this when we’ve been let down so many times. But Siegler’s confidence in the report is enough to make us pay attention, and we’ll be watching Facebook’s media gig this Tuesday and will be sure to report back. It’s slated to start at 10am PT.

What do you think, will Facebook unveil a phone next week?

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  • http://twitter.com/Max_Kas Max Kas

    A phone that will start off normal and then slowly work ads into your email, sms, homescreen, lockscreen, while listening to music, etc…

    No thank you

    • http://twitter.com/El_Barto_01 El Barto

      There is something like that already. Is called Android.

      • http://www.facebook.com/joe.jonsen Joe Jonsen

        android umm sucks

      • http://www.facebook.com/dark.moyan Đark Moyan

        iOS is S**t

      • Dallee

        Android sarks. My sister changed to IOS is because of this crappy phone *tsk* not last for 6 months android goes freeze & error. Same goes to xperia with android, buggy apps

      • http://www.facebook.com/ashton.wilson.5454 Ashton Wilson

        Mabey its because you used an xpreia?!? Its like compareing the iphone 5 to the first android phone…

      • Guest

        first of all, we didn’t compare any type lol.. just seeing the surface, ios is much secure than android. to built an app, needs to know all about ios but as for android, anyone can make their own app but is it stable as ios? i don’t think so.

        btw both of my sister’s phone hangs a lot & crash all the time man.
        btw, my first sister is using X Peria u (pink) & SII while my second
        sister is using SII as well and im using iphone 4s and it’s like what, few months different at the same year? like we got cheated both android from different phones as the same feelings as my sister. not much of a difference anyway.

        it’s time save & persuade my friends to get iphones. at the end of the day, android still sucks man.

      • http://www.facebook.com/dark.moyan Đark Moyan

        Ever used Android Before? -_-

  • http://twitter.com/Jirakaz Zak Wallace

    With Facebook integrated into iOS and Android, I really cannot see a point to do this besides selling to 13 year olds who don’t understand how things work, yet.

    • http://www.facebook.com/dark.moyan Đark Moyan

      hahahah :D
      Exactly

  • Jeffery Pierre

    In the name of everything that is holy will this never ending assault on privacy that is Facebook please go away!!!!!

    • 4p0c4lyps3

      WORD!!!!!!! +1

      • Lobo555

        +2

  • 4p0c4lyps3

    Dumbest thing I may have ever heard of, period.

  • http://www.facebook.com/liamsagooch Liam Googolplex Merlyn

    What do you suppose makes these rumours necessary for the big bosses to outright deny them. Like what makes this one more worthy of recognition over all the others? Ive noticed it happen with Apple before too.

  • mwpitt52

    Facebook is evil. Why would you trust your data with the devil.

    • http://twitter.com/El_Barto_01 El Barto

      They are not evil. They are just a company trying to stay relevant. Android was a good choice for google as they knew mobile was about to take off. Now with android being free is everywhere, and you get your cheap smartphone but also comes at fair price. Your privacy and security. Facebook will compete with android on this front cause they are more like google than apple, their entire business is based on ads and data. Your data!

      • mwpitt52

        Anyone with a Facebook phone = Looser.

  • @dongiuj

    It’s possible… Anything’s possible. Maybe it’ll have flaws but then again EVERY phone out there has flaws.

  • Lobo555

    This phone will be the one phone will by it self make all other phones look better just because it will suck so much

  • http://policydiary.com/ John S. Wilson

    FB partnering with Amazon to have their apps run on it would be interesting. They could also use their Maps. Otherwise forking Android would be a problem because they couldn’t use Google services and probably don’t want to invet a ton right now developing their own.

  • http://twitter.com/drewstone2 drewstone

    you can’t make chicken salad out of chicken $hit. F that phone.

  • pauleebe

    Probably just deeper integration into existing mobile platforms, maybe some new apps. Maybe additional apps. Given how hard a time WP8 is having and with BB10 being tossed into the mix this year, there definitely is not room for a fifth major contender being Facebook, with zero experience in the mobile OS field.

  • Craig Wayman

    This is a bad time to get in the Mobile Operating System Market. It is either iOS or Android… and Microsoft just found that out first hand.

  • Guest

    If its one thing journalists can not seem to get over its the fact that no Facebook phone is coming and after that there is no Apple TV so STFU and stop writing about it.

  • Matthew

    Facebook phone. What would be special about a Facebook phone? Facebook integration? Nope Apple did it.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=604885391 Richard Borkovec

    Anyone remember that phone that had a dedicated Facebook button to upload photos and statuses without the app? Yeah, me either.

  • http://www.facebook.com/joe.jonsen Joe Jonsen

    oh god nooooooooooo

  • http://www.facebook.com/dark.moyan Đark Moyan

    I might Try Ubuntu Mobile OS with my Xperia S but will never Go for Mozilla Mobile OS or this S**t Facebook OS

  • Tyler Lazenby

    To everybody who is saying that this phone would be a bad idea, as an investor standpoint you all are wrong. This is because it has been proven to have worked and frankly Google shares your data much more than Facebook does with sources you don’t know. Additionally we don’t even know what kind of features this phone would have. It would be stupid to assume it would simply say Facebook and look and operate like iOS Android, because business people are smarter than that, plus legal issues would ensue. The problem here is that the phone would probably have to make a huge splash in innovation much like Android did when it first came out by introducing the Google play store, with many free apps. Facebook wouldn’t have any problem advertising this either, as they have an amazingly large audience. All in all if they wanted to do it, they could. And we would probably know about it. So I have to label this as interesting but unlikely.