Facebook Smart Phones: Is your data the motivation?

facebook_phoneFor over a year now, word has been going around on the techie grapevine that Facebook is developing their own smart phone. Well, that rumor has now been confirmed. Strangely enough, the Facebook phone is called “Buffy” and will have social media seamlessly integrated into its design.

Facebook has allegedly been talking with various Smart phone developers, notably Samsung, Motorola, and INQ Mobile. However, the company ultimately went with HTC. The question now on everyone’s minds is: Why would Facebook strive to create a smart phone of their own? More importantly, why HTC when it could have had its pick?

First, let’s tackle the first question: Why is Facebook so intent on creating its own Smart Phone.

Their official statement on the matter is this: “Our mobile strategy is simple. We think every mobile device is better if it is deeply social. We’re working across the entire mobile industry, with operators, hardware manufacturers, OS providers, and application developers to bring powerful social experiences to more people around the world.”

So does that mean that they simply want to ‘connect’ everyone? Maybe…

Several people believe that the reason why the company’s ventures are moving towards smart phones is the expected growth of mobile ad revenue in the next few years. According to Gartner, mobile ad revenue is expected to grow by 700% by 2015 from the $3 billion it’s currently generating this year.

With the new generation beginning to prefer smart phones over their clunkier counterparts, the desktop PC and the laptop, it would certainly be a sound decision for Facebook to throw their weight into this arena.

However, it’s not as if Facebook doesn’t already have a presence in the smart phone industry. The company has already aided manufacturers in creating apps that will make it accessible to users anytime and anywhere there’s an internet connection. Some people have been wondering about what exactly is special in “Buffy” when we can already access Facebook perfectly well with other phones.

Well, the answer to that question is currently still up in the air. Facebook has been pretty tightlipped about any updates so far – except that we can expect the phone to have Facebook “integrated at the core of its being”. HTC has been pretty silent about it too.

Speaking of HTC, there’s still the question of why it was chosen over more popular competitors like, say, Samsung.

Granted, HTC is a pretty formidable company in its own right and has produced its fair share of popular smart phones. However, HTC has also been notoriously known for the slow rate by which it updates its phones’ operating systems.

Furthermore, the company has been criticized for including something called the HTCLogger to its phones – a feature that collects a users’ location, contact, and browsing data. To make matters worse, reports from the AndroidPolice.com also say that several HTC phones have an app called androidvncserverapk – an app that allows third parties to log in and take over the user’s phone.

So, with all that bad press, one has to wonder why Facebook still chose HTC. Then again, Facebook, with its penchant for collecting data without permission, is not a stranger to bad press either, so perhaps the partnership was a match made in heaven for them after all.

Then again, with critics saying that Facebook is far too late in joining the smart phone race and with everyone having access to the social networking site through their own smart phones anyway, perhaps no one will buy the phone and no one’s privacy will have to get violated at all.

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