Facebook officials are once again denying they have a smartphone in development. The social network site’s denial follows a report by London site City A.M. that the Taiwanese smartphone maker HTC plans to unveil two Facebook-branded phones at the Mobile World Congress event next month.
The phones, say City A.M., will be the “first to bear the Facebook branding and [colors].” They’re said to also run Google’s Android operating system, to prominently display Facebook messages and news feeds on the home screen and to include the ability to phone up or e-mail a friend from his or her Facebook page.The phone reportedly also has a likeness to the HTC-made Google Nexus One.However, that might not be the case.”Facebook is not building a mobile phone,” said a company spokesperson, according to PC Magazine. “We’re working across the entire mobile industry with operators, hardware manufacturers and app developers to bring Facebook to mobile phones in a variety of unique and exciting ways. Some of these include deep integrations of Facebook within the device, but are not -a Facebook phone’ as they sometimes are referred to by commenters.”Dan Rose, Facebook’s head of business development, additionally told a group of reporters at a Facebook event in London, “This is really just another example of a manufacturer who has taken our public [application programming interfaces] and integrated them into their device in an interesting way,” Reuters reported.Rose reportedly described the rumors around the HTC device as “overblown.”Talk of a Facebook phone has been circulating since September, following a TechCrunch report that high-level Facebook programmers Joe Hewitt and Matthew Papakipos were working on the top-secret project. That report was similarly denied.”Facebook is not building a phone,” Facebook spokesperson Jamie Schopflin told Mashable in response. “Our approach has always been to make phones and apps more social. Current projects include everything from an HTML5 version of the site to apps on major platforms to full Connect support with SDKs to deeper integrations with some manufacturers.”It’s perhaps these deep integrations that are getting people confused about the difference between a Facebook-initiated-and-built phone and a phone designed to stand out by having particularly deep ties to the social-networking site.Earlier this month, such confusion seemingly also greeted news of an INQ Mobile phone brimming with Facebook functionality. Tech site PocketNow found specifications for a phone called the INQ Cloud Touch, which had just received certification from the Bluetooth Special Interest Group.The group described the phone as an “Android smartphone built to make messaging faster and smarter. It’s designed around the way people naturally communicate and has Facebook built into its core. The home screen features multiple entry points to different Facebook functions, while a dynamic widget displays a feed of status updates, albums, videos and photos.” INQ declined to comment on the device, but told eWEEK to expect some news in February.Mobile World Congress will take place Feb. 14-17 in Barcelona. The event may also proffer news of a rumored HTC tablet, called the “Flyer,” which will reportedly beginning shipping to the States in March.