Facebook is building a phone according to some reports this weekend but that phone is likely to have a familiar base.
The news was first reported last night by TechCrunch that Facebook was working on its own phone. That thought seems a bit silly on many levels, especially since Facebook is currently a software service and they’d have to build or acquire many software and hardware layers to build a successful Phone OS platform.
Facebook is rich and has lots of brain power, but they simply can’t do it on their own in any realistic amount of time.
Just look at Microsoft (GOOG), the biggest, richest and most experienced software company on earth. It has taken them 18 months to put together their Windows 7 phone OS, which is built on top of a legacy of Zune and Windows Mobile products.
It took both Apple (AAPL) and Google (GOOG) (no slouches) five years to build their mobile platforms into what they are today. So Facebook is going to build a Facebook phone by themselves and have it ready soon? Not likely. So who is going to help them out?
No one. But just as Google plans to use Facebook’s work to help its cause, Facebook could rift some of Google’s Android…
Erick Tseng, who moved over to Facebook from Android project management, will certainly help there. Dan Frommer has suggested that Joe Hewitt and Matthew Papakipos are in on the action. These guys are both way too far up the stack to be building a mobile OS, but they could certainly be adding a Facebook layer to someone else’s.
Facebook could even do what Microsoft has done with the Verizon Fascinate and pull out Google’s guts and implant Facebook as the contacts, email, search provider, etc while using Google’s core functionality.
Verizon (VZ) (or whoever) could market this Frankenstein as the “Facebook phone!” (Or they could call it the Kin).
Speaking of the Kin, Microsoft does own some of Facebook and could use it as a differentiator on its Windows Phone 7 devices, though I imagine the scars from the Kin experiment are far from healing.
In one respect, deeper integration into mobile OSes does make sense. Facebook can’t grow beyond its current situation as just an app with a few hooks into other apps without some deeper integration. And Android is the easiest way to build that because of its open nature. But that’s as close to a reality as I can see this Facebook Phone rumor getting.