News Analysis: Facebook could be releasing a mobile phone at some point in the future. But the chances of such a device catching on with phone buyers seem awfully slim.
Rumors are swirling that Facebook is working on mobile phone to compete with Apple's iPhone
and Android OS-based devices. For its part, Facebook has said that it won't be
launching a device. It has basically done and said all that it can to either
throw reporters off the scent of any phone development plans or to make it
clear that a device isn't coming from the burgeoning social network.
But that won't stop the world from speculating. Over the past
few days, Facebook users have been wondering what a device from the social
network would look like, how it would work and, perhaps most importantly, which
operating system it would eventually run. The questions won't stop.
However, a Facebook phone, if it ever does hit store shelves,
would fail miserably. Facebook is a social network. Trying to parlay its
success in that space to the smartphone market seems like a forlorn hope, to
say the least. Here's why a Facebook phone would fail.
1. Microsoft tried and failed
If Facebook were to release a smartphone, the device would
undoubtedly focus on social networking. The problem is, that was already tried by Microsoft
The company's Kin line of devices attempted to bridge the gap between the
social world and mobile hardware. The line failed miserably. And in the
process, it became clear that a social phone just doesn't make much sense to
the vast majority of mobile customers.
2. Social networking can only go so far
Moreover, social networking can only be useful to a point. An
increasing number of people might be going to Facebook each day, and the site currently attracts 500 million active users
but there is a point when those folks will want to get away from the social
network. They currently like having the option to go there when they want to. A
Facebook phone could change all that. And it's unlikely that users would like
3. The iPhone is still a force
All this talk of Android OS seems to make some believe that
Apple's iPhone isn't as important as it once was. Such an assumption is faulty.
It's hard to overlook the fact that Apple's device is an extremely popular
product. A Facebook phone wouldn't be able to attract that much attention. And
it's highly unlikely that, when compared with the iPhone, consumers would opt
for Facebook's alternative.
4. Social networks don't get phones
What makes anyone think that a social network has the ability
to attract mobile customers? There is little debating that Facebook has been
able to strike a chord with Web users around the world. And it has made it
abundantly clear that it knows what they want. But the social space is much
different from the mobile market. And it's highly unlikely that Facebook, a
company that operates in the social realm, could even come close to matching
Google's or Apple's success in the mobile space.