With Facebook’s controversial IPO now finished the social networking company is thought to be considering a Facebook mobile phone, and is already recruiting engineers who have experience with mobile devices, according to a story published in the New York Times on Sunday.
Facebook has tried to keep its mobile plans under-wraps for a while now, with the social network apparently going to great lengths to avoid putting public job adverts online according to the article.
It’s thought that Facebook wants to corner the handset to market next year and monetize its 900 million users – apparently they have already poached top talent from Apple to work on the new handset.
This isn’t the first time we’ve heard that Facebook wants to compete in the mobile hardware space. It was reported a couple of years ago, but that project fell apart after Facebook realised it didn’t have the expertise necessary to come up with a smartphone on its own, according to the Times story. Facebook had teamed up with HTC in a project dubbed ‘Buffy’, which is a still ongoing according to the latest reports.
With Facebook now a public company there are now trying to bolster their financial results and hopefully see their stock price go up. The IPO was marred with technical glitches at the Nasdaq and accusations that the underwriter might have broken IPO rules, which has since put the spotlight on the company’s earnings and the uphill battle it may have to monetise its huge user base.
The latest reports about Facebook’s smartphone efforts also come within a week after Google closed its acquisition of Motorola Mobility. The close of the deal means that Google has a hardware manufacturing arm with which it can closely work to develop Android. Google will also have control of Motorola’s massive patent portfolio. Motorola Mobility has said that it owns or has applied for more than 24,000 patents.
After raising $16 billion from its IPO, Facebook seems to be looking for ways to spend it as various acquisition rumours are doing the rounds – including the potential buyouts of Opera Software and facial recognition technology start-up, Face.com.
Reported by Pocket-lint, Facebook is weighing up an offer for browser company Opera, apparently the Norwegian company is said to have put a freeze on all hiring, and is thought to be in talks with social network over a buyout. Opera software has three browsers for desktops, tablets and phones. Although their desktop variant only commands 2% of the market their mobile browser, Opera Mini, has a much great share of the market, accounting for 12% of the market.
Facebook recently bought a slew of AOL patents from Microsoft and it is thought that these patents will be used when Facebook tries to come up with a its own operating system to power the smartphone.
“They are not doing a phone to enter the devices market,” said Carolina Milanesi at research firm Gartner. “If they do a phone they will have to embed Facebook and Instagram at the core of the device, learning & profiting from every click the users does.”
Motorola and HTC have already made phones with a Facebook button. The HTC ChaCha, a BlackBerry style handset, lets users share music, photos and updates by pressing the keyboard’s F button.
A phone would allow Zuckerberg more control over customers and make for less dependence on Google and Apple.
While Microsoft has integrated Facebook features, Apple has been less welcoming. A Facebook spokeswoman referred to a statement on the company’s mobile strategy: “We’re working across the entire mobile industry; with operators, hardware manufacturers, OS providers, and application developers.”
In other Facebook acquisition news, they are reportedly looking into purchasing facial recognition company Face.com. The news comes from Israeli publication Calcalist. The very same publication has accurately broken news of acquisitions of many other Israeli companies – including Apple’s acquisition of Anobit.
Face.com technology is already used in the Photo Finder and Photo Tagger apps on Facebook. The social network is said to have looked into buying the start-up before, but an agreement could not be reached between the two parties.
Improved facial recognition technology would make sense for Facebook, as a cornerstone of the social network is photo-sharing. Facebook’s recent acquisition of Instagram for $1 billion and its release of its own photo-sharing mobile app, also indicate the company is making a concerted effort to cement its position in the space.