#facebook phone

If Microsoft Were The Inventors Of Facebook Home, They’d Have Invented Facebook Home

Here we go again.

Frank Shaw, Microsoft’s head of communications, took to the company blog today to “congratulate” Facebook on the launch of Facebook Home. Except that he’s not really congratulating Facebook, he’s passive-aggressively signaling the old “WE DID THIS FIRST!!!” whiny bullshit that Microsoft loves to pull from time to time.

Microsoft, by way of Shaw, seems annoyed that Facebook is getting all this buzz for something they believe they did in 2011 with Windows Phone.  They’re pissed off that such a fact which seems so obvious to them wasn’t brought up enough yesterday, so they’re bringing it up themselves. 

Not mentioned is that it wasn’t brought up because Windows Phone, while a good product in many regards, is a complete after-thought in the smartphone market. You can yell “FIRST!!!” as loudly as you want to try to change that, but that never works. 

Said another way: If you guys were the inventors of Facebook Home, you’d have invented Facebook Home.

What’s deliciously awkward here is that Microsoft is actually an investor in Facebook, and a close partner. It must be especially maddening that Facebook would choose to utilize (or “spoon”) a product by their chief rival — hence Shaw’s comments about Android in his post. 

I’ll just repeat what I said a year ago on a similar matter:

If you have to tell people you won, you lost.

Ron Amadeo of Android Police scored what appears to be a very legit APK of HTC’s incoming “Facebook Phone”. Everything seems to be pretty much as expected. A couple interesting notes:

  • You’ll apparently be able to install this launcher on a number of Android devices. The HTC device should just be the pre-installed, flagship “Facebook Phone” for now. And the specs are meh.
  • There are graphics in the APK for a Google button of some sort, which points to Google Search functionality being built-in to this launcher. Again, that was basically expected since whispers have Google being okay with all of this. But it’s still a little weird given Microsoft’s stake in Facebook.

One thing I’m not sure Amadeo caught:

"Chat Heads" is a new feature included in both Orca (Facebook Messenger) and Wakizashi. Other than the new name, I’m not sure what exactly is different from the normal Messenger.

"Orca" is no doubt a codename for Messenger, as you’ll recall it arose from Facebook’s 2011 purchase of the messaging startup Beluga. Get it?

Nice scoop by Josh Constine of TechCrunch:

Facebook just invited press to an event at its headquarters on April 4th to “Come See Our New Home On Android”. Sources tell us it will be a modified version of the Android operating system with deep native Facebook functionality on the homescreen that may live on an HTC handset. The evidence aligns to say this is the Facebook Phone announcement people have been speculating about for years.

Others have since backed this up as well.

I was a few months off, but this is basically what I had heard back in January as well.

There seems to be some disagreement over whether or not this would constitute a “fork” of Android. It would seem there is a way for Facebook to do this with Google’s blessing (just as they bless TouchWiz and other “skins”). But make no mistake, this is not stock Android. Facebook will deeply inject their own apps into the core of the OS. As long as they don’t replace Search, Maps, and a few others, Google should be okay with it — for now.

One wildcard is the Play Store. Facebook has their own App Center (which right now links to Play Store and the App Store), which they presumably could make work as a stand-alone Android app store as well. But it’s hard to see how that wouldn’t piss off Google. See: Amazon.

Another question: what will the carriers think of this? Presumably, they’ll have at least one on board with the HTC phone. Facebook has been making a lot of noise about “free calls” within their Messenger apps — this could all but destroy the notion of cellular “minutes”. 

Of course, that writing has been on the wall for some time. Data phones are the way going forward. Still, the carriers must be a little scared of the post-minutes, post-SMS world that this Facebook Phone highlights. It’s a huge change. The carriers are finally becoming the dumb pipes they were meant to be.

matrinox asked:

About your "Timing Is Everything" post. Are you trying to imply that Facebook will make a phone because SJ once said he wasn't but did so anyways? Two different people with two different reasons. Also, do you really think a FB phone makes sense? Would it just be Facebook apps with a store that sells other Facebook-enhanced apps? To me, that is what FB has been doing in the last 3 years. So it doesn't make sense to me. Please enlighten me if you see something I do not. Thanks.

I guess my point is that even though these people state things they’re *not* doing, they’re actively thinking about and/or working on them. That was the case with Apple, and it’s the case with Facebook.

That doesn’t mean it’s a good idea for Facebook to do a phone. Maybe it is, maybe it isn’t. Again, timing is everything. It just means it would be stupid for them not to be looking into it. Which they are — and have been, clearly.

Facebook Not Building A Phone*

*No Facebook employee is actually on an assembly line building phone hardware.

There are two things I like about the AllThingsD (or as John Gruber likes to call them “some website”) report on the “Facebook Phone”.

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). 

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