The social networking site is attempting to launch a smartphone by next year
Photo Credit: Casey Fleser
According to the New York Times, Facebook is headhunting engineers to build hardware for a Facebook smartphone. This would be the company’s third attempt to develop a smartphone.
The social networking site tried to develop a phone in 2010 but stopped plans when the company feared it would develop into a hardware maker instead of a software developer. The firm’s second attempt was working with Taiwanese smartphone company, HTC under the codename "Buffy."
Facebook’s smartphone project with HTC is still under development but the company is propelling plans forward on its own and has hired "more than half a dozen former Apple software and hardware engineers who worked on the iPhone and one who worked on the iPad."
Facebook’s attempt to make its own mobile phone is a step forward in strengthening its weak mobile platform.
Mark Zuckerberg announced in Facebook’s regulatory filings for its recent IPO that the move of web users to smartphones and other mobile devices was one of the biggest challenges for Facebook. More than half of Facebook’s 900 million users access the site predominantly through mobile but the company hasn’t found a way to monetise its mobile platform.
Facebook will also have to face fierce competition from Apple if it enters the smartphone market.
Apple has recently integrated Twitter into iOS and android-friendly devices, created by Google, Facebook’s toughest competition in web advertising.
Facebook recently launched its new mobile photo app ‘Camera,’ just six weeks after its controversial $1bn purchase of Instagram. The company’s recent acquisitions of other mobile applications, as well as launching its own app store, have many saying the company is taking natural steps toward launching its own phone.
"Mark is worried that if he doesn’t create a mobile phone in the near future that Facebook will simply become an app on other mobile platforms," a Facebook employee told the New York Times.
The company said in its original filing that Facebook depends too much upon mobile operating systems and networks that the company cannot control which puts its apps at risk of being shut out by mobile competitors.
"Facebook user growth and engagement on mobile devices depend upon effective operation with mobile operating systems, networks, and standards that we do not control," said Facebook.
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