*No Facebook employee is actually on an assembly line building phone hardware.
1) The complete and utter lack of any link to or mention of TechCrunch even though we broke this story over a year ago.
Do they have new information? Yes, namely the codename, “Buffy”, and the partnership with HTC. But it is the same project, as they even acknowledge: “Although it has changed scope and leadership, Buffy has been an ongoing area of concern at the social networking giant for the past two years.”
2) While Facebook denied the project at the time of our report, there’s no question it has been real the entire time. I’m going to stick by what I wrote last September: Facebook Is Not Working On A Phone Just Like Google Was Not Working On A Phone.
In that post, I outlined exactly what these new reports suggest. Namely that Facebook has been working on their own version of Android with social deeply ingrained — which Dan Frommer was first to point out on Business Insider also over a year ago, and I reiterated hearing this past February. And working with a third-party to manufacturer the hardware (again, HTC).
As I wrote:
By saying “Facebook is not building a phone,” what the company likely means is that they won’t be manufacturing their own hardware. Right. We never said that they were. As far as we know, Facebook doesn’t own hardware manufacturing plants, so how would they? This is the same type of semantic caveat Google kept using in saying they were not working a phone. Okay, there aren’t actually Google employees in the plants building them, just like there won’t be Facebook employees building them piece by piece.
So, yes, technically they’re not physically building a phone, I suppose. But that’s sort of like saying Banana Republic isn’t in the clothing business because they outsource the actual shirt-making to Asia.
Facebook was playing a bullshit game of semantics. And I’m sure that will continue right up until the day they release the phone, at which point it won’t matter anymore.
Here’s all you need to know though: Facebook is building a phone because Facebook has to build a phone. They can say all they want about being everywhere, partnering with everyone, peace and love, yadda yadda. The fact of the matter is that mobile is the future of computing and it’s currently controlled by two gate masters: Apple and Google.
Right now, they play somewhat nicely with one another (in that Facebook has apps for both platforms). But what happens if the relationships change? Or what if either one of them decides to push their own social network on their phone? Like say, Google+ on the Galaxy Nexus…
The point is that if Facebook wants to be a big boy company, they can’t afford to be one code push away from banishment on the important platforms. In fact, if you want to be a dominant player, you have to own the platform. Facebook, of all companies, knows this.
So no, there’s no Facebook Phone. Until a year from now when there is one. Consider it fait accompli.