Facebook phone rears up again

But what does it mean?


Bloomberg has found three people supporting claims that Facebook plans to launch a branded phone next year, though the motivation behind such a move remains a mystery.

It's not the first time the Facebook Phone has been rumoured, but such a phone has also been launched at least once when Facebook's founder Mark Zuckerberg heavily endorsed the INQ1 as the ideal phone for Facebook users. Given how good the INQ phones and software solutions are it's hard to see how much more integration Facebook can offer over existing handsets.

Bloomberg reckons a Facebook handset will be launched in April next next year, based on the Android platform and becoming operator branded (by AT&T) for a US launch in the second half of 2011. All of this may well be true, but none of it means that Facebook is planning to launch its own mobile telephone.

INQ already makes cheap handsets with built-in Facebook integration and shares an investor with the social network. The company is almost certainly working on an Android handset or two - it has no attachment to any other OS and hasn't launched a handset for year or so. INQ would very sensibly be working closely with Facebook to ensure a good level of integration, just as it's no doubt working with Twitter and Google to ensure their respective services are suitably supported.

INQ already synchronises one's Facebook contacts into the address book, but one can imagine greater use of presence information (indicating if contacts are logged on, and/or willing to chat, from within the contact list). Checking in with Facebook Places should become possible with a single tap too, but that's going to be true on all platforms very soon. It's harder to imagine INQ agreeing to drop support for competing services, or offering to display advertisements outside a specific Facebook application.

The company might, however, agree to put a Facebook sticker on the front, as it has done with Skype in the past. One shouldn't underestimate the value of a sticker: AT&T could easily launch an INQ handset with a Facebook logo on the front, just as 3 did in the UK with a Skype logo on an INQ phone. The Facebook brand would sell well to those who want to be socially connected, but don't want a smartphone. We're not convinced that qualifies as a "Facebook phone", but it does explain the media interest.

And the media, particularly in the US, would really like to see Facebook launching a phone. From outside the industry it seems to make sense, with Facebook mopping up those feature-phone users who haven't bought an iPhone and US brands reaching their naturally-dominant position. But reality is, unfortunately, rather less tidy.

Facebook certainly has staff working with handset manufacturers, and specifically with INQ, to better integrate the social network with the handset. Facebook would certainly like to see adverts presented to mobile users, but no manufacturer is going to allow that outside a Facebook app - at least not yet. Next year INQ will certainly launch some handsets with excellent Facebook integration, and probably based on Android. There might even be one with a Facebook sticker on the front - but whether that qualifies as a "Facebook phone" we'll leave open to debate. ®


Other stories you might like

  • Meta agrees to tweak ad system after US govt brands it discriminatory
    And pay the tiniest of fines, too

    Facebook parent Meta has settled a complaint brought by the US government, which alleged the internet giant's machine-learning algorithms broke the law by blocking certain users from seeing online real-estate adverts based on their nationality, race, religion, sex, and marital status.

    Specifically, Meta violated America's Fair Housing Act, which protects people looking to buy or rent properties from discrimination, it was claimed; it is illegal for homeowners to refuse to sell or rent their houses or advertise homes to specific demographics, and to evict tenants based on their demographics.

    This week, prosecutors sued Meta in New York City, alleging the mega-corp's algorithms discriminated against users on Facebook by unfairly targeting people with housing ads based on their "race, color, religion, sex, disability, familial status, and national origin."

    Continue reading
  • Metaverse progress update: Some VR headset prototypes nowhere near shipping
    But when it does work, bet you'll fall over yourselves to blow ten large on designer clobber for your avy

    Facebook owner Meta's pivot to the metaverse is drawing significant amounts of resources: not just billions in case, but time. The tech giant has demonstrated some prototype virtual-reality headsets that aren't close to shipping and highlight some of the challenges that must be overcome.

    The metaverse is CEO Mark Zuckerberg's grand idea of connected virtual worlds in which people can interact, play, shop, and work. For instance, inhabitants will be able to create avatars to represent themselves, wearing clothes bought using actual money – with designer gear going for five figures.

    Apropos of nothing, Meta COO Sheryl Sandberg is leaving the biz.

    Continue reading
  • Facebook phishing campaign nets millions in IDs and cash
    Hundreds of millions of stolen credentials and a cool $59 million

    An ongoing phishing campaign targeting Facebook users may have already netted hundreds of millions of credentials and a claimed $59 million, and it's only getting bigger.

    Identified by security researchers at phishing prevention company Pixm in late 2021, the campaign has only been running since the final quarter of last year, but has already proven incredibly successful. Just one landing page - out of around 400 Pixm found - got 2.7 million visitors in 2021, and has already tricked 8.5 million viewers into visiting it in 2022. 

    The flow of this phishing campaign isn't unique: Like many others targeting users on social media, the attack comes as a link sent via DM from a compromised account. That link performs a series of redirects, often through malvertising pages to rack up views and clicks, ultimately landing on a fake Facebook login page. That page, in turn, takes the victim to advert landing pages that generate additional revenue for the campaign's organizers. 

    Continue reading

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2022