Facebook has the world abuzz with the possibility of yet another new smartphone. For months now, reports have been swirling that the company is working on a phone.
But it seemed that every time it looks like it actually might happen, the social network company would bob and weave and then put the idea on ice. The latest rumor now suggests that Facebook is working with HTC on a device that will come with a forked version of Android that puts its social network’s features at center stage. And that technology could be known as Facebook Home when it’s unveiled on April 4.
But why is it happening now? Why would Facebook, a company that has been so successful online and through mobile applications, try its luck with a smartphone? More importantly, why would the social networking giant invest the kind of cash it would take to get such a product off the ground? Certainly there are better things Facebook can do with its cash than spend it on a device, right?
But perhaps not. Facebook was criticized last year for not aggressively mobilizing its social network. Facebook knows that its greatest potential for grow in North America and overseas is on the mobile platform.
Facebook is now a major public company in the technology industry. It has to keep growing vigorously to prove its value to customers and investors. As a result, now more than ever, the company understands that mobile is the future.
Here are some reasons why Facebook is preparing to introduce a smartphone.
1. It’s where the market is headed
There’s no debating that the future of the industry is in the mobile market. Companies around the globe are moving to the mobile space, so they can make good on their desire to generate the kind of cash that smartphones and tablets are supposed to deliver to those firms that are competing there. Considering Facebook is such a major force in the technology industry, it only makes sense that it, too, wants to capitalize on mobile as much as possible.
2. It’s all about advertising
If Facebook does in fact sign an agreement with HTC to deliver a product that puts its many features center stage, it would mean one thing: advertising really is a very, very important part of the company’s plans. Yes, Facebook might like to make some cash on hardware sales, but like Google, it’s in it for the users and the advertising dollars that go with it. Make no mistake about that.
3. Blame it on Android
Android is arguably the most important operating system available right now–even more so than Windows. Android is the dominant force in mobile. Now that Android has hit that critical mass, it only makes sense that Facebook is following.
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4. Facebook Phone Home?
Chances are Facebook will indeed release the Facebook Home forked Android operating system that’s been rumored lately. And why not? Facebook has been looking for ways to improve how its services are embedded in operating systems. Look no further than its integration across iOS for proof of that. Now with Facebook Home, it can achieve all of its goals in that area. Look for Facebook Home to be a real winner for the social network.
5. Shareholders expect it
Facebook’s shareholders have been clamoring for the company to embrace mobile for months now. Over the last couple of quarters, Facebook has succeeded at that. Still, it’s not enough. And Facebook knows it. The company’s push into the phone business reflects its understanding that when shareholders call, you better listen.
6. Vendors are lining up for something new
Facebook won’t be building its own device. Quite the contrary, the company will be offering a handset that’s designed by another company. What mobile phone maker wouldn’t want to help the social network get a mobile product to store shelves? After all, a Facebook phone is unique. And in the smartphone market, uniqueness is everything.
7. It’s a Facebook world
One of the things that we can’t forget about a Facebook phone is that it’ll likely tap into all of the content out on the Internet to make it more useful. Every site one goes to now will find a “like” button on it, hoping that fans will show their support for the company and, thus, increase its notoriety socially. Facebook sees all of that as a major opportunity. And it should.
8. Facebook’s already a top destination
Already, Facebook is a top destination for mobile users. In fact, the company’s application is one of the most popular free programs in both Apple’s App Store and the Google Play Marketplace. Why shouldn’t Facebook try to capitalize on that and integrate even more features into an operating system? More integration means more cash.
9. Social networks need to keep innovating
The problem with operating a social network is that users are often fickle. They decide in a moment’s notice that a service is no longer what they want, and they go elsewhere. They did it with Friendster and MySpace. So far, however, they’ve stuck with Facebook. And that’s largely due to the company’s willingness to continue to innovate and come up with new ideas to keep users engaged. A Facebook phone would follow that nicely.
10. Facebook is seeing its user base go mobile
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has made it abundantly clear to all of his company’s shareholders: his social network is now a mobile-focused company. Hundreds of millions of Facebook users only access the social network from mobile devices, requiring the company to accommodate those folks. Given that, opting for a Facebook phone now is a good idea.