Facebook took the wind out of CES last week when it sent out invites to a press event on its corporate campus this Tuesday. The invite provides no clues as to what the company has up its sleeve, though according to a new report out of TechCrunch, Facebook will be announcing something related to mobile on Tuesday.
Rumors of a Facebook phone have been around since 2010 and each time the rumor reappears, Mark Zuckerberg comes out and denies it and says the company is committed to its mobile apps for other platforms. TechCrunch’s MG Siegler, however, brings the rumor back from the dead and says that Facebook will introduce the Facebook Phone this week. There are a few caveats, though.
Siegler’s source does not know whether Facebook will announce a custom built phone at the event or an operating system built to run on another manufacturer’s hardware.
The most likely suggestion, however, is that Facebook has built a heavily customized version of Android with the social network integrated in every corner of the O.S. This is what Amazon did with the Kindle Fire and had a lot of success with. Using Android as a base would allow the supposed Facebook phone to run the more than 500,000 apps already made for Android. Using Android, as TechCrunch notes, is also much, much easier for Facebook than them building their own operating system and expecting consumers to abandon their current ecosystems.
There’s also a slim chance that the supposed Facebook interface is built on WebOS, which HP recently made available as open source software.
The most recent rumor regarding the Facebook Phone appeared in July of 2012 and suggested that the company was working with HTC on a device. In 2011, HTC teamed up with Facebook to release the ChaCha, which ran Android with HTC Sense on top, but had a dedicated Facebook button.
The fact that Mark Zuckerberg has denied a Facebook Phone in the past really means absolutely nothing. Technology CEOs lie to us all the time. Apple lied about the existence of an iPhone, as well as the iPad. Google lied to us about the “Google Phone.” And it’s all together possible that Facebook has been lying to us about the “Facebook Phone.” We’ll know for sure on Tuesday.