HTC is going to release a Facebook phone? Haven’t we been down this path before? Indeed we have — with mixed results — but if a new report by Bloomberg is any indication, the new Facebook phone that is reportedly in development is being bolstered by an all-star backing cast and possibly, an all-new take on the Android operating system.
Rather than being a homebrewed HTC-only affair like the HTC Status, Bloomberg reports that Facebook itself is working closely with HTC to develop the new Facebook phone. It’s no paper partnership, either; Facebook has been gobbling up former Apple and Palm engineers to work on mobile projects, and back in May, the New York Times reported that at least some of them were picked up specifically to work on a Facebook phone.
Bloomberg’s sources agree with the Times report and say that the assembled team is working on creating an operating system — possibly a modified version of Android — with much deeper Facebook integration than current phones offer. TechCrunch first caught whiff of Facebook’s phone ambitions in late 2010, when it reported that high-level Facebook employees with operating system development experience — including the company’s director of engineering — were working on a Facebook-focused mobile operating system.
Facebook has clearly stated that mobile is a major focus for the company. Facebook’s SEC filing showed that a majority of users utilize Facebook’s mobile apps, but the company’s attempts to monetize its mobile offerings are still in their infancy, albeit an apparently successful infancy.
Bloomberg’s sources expect the HTC Facebook phone to launch sometime around mid-2013, a timeline that matches a 2011 report by AllThingsD. We’ve heard tons of Facebook phone rumors in the past, though, so you might not want to start saving your pennies until you hear something official from HTC or Facebook.