Facebook Working On Its Own Smartphone?

Image credit: Facebook

Facebook continues to beef up its mobile strategy - just last week it launched a dedicated Facebook camera app and it has recently acquired mobile app companies, including Instagram and Glancee. But according to The New York Times, Facebook is aiming bigger than apps that run on the iPhone or Android phones. It might just release its own smartphone.

According to the New York Times' anonymous sources, Facebook is preparing to release a phone by next year.

"The company has already hired more than half a dozen former Apple software and hardware engineers who worked on the iPhone, and one who worked on the iPad, the employees and those briefed on the plans said," Nick Bilton of the New York Times reported on Sunday.

Previously other technology sites have reported similar Facebook phone speculation. In 2010, TechCrunch reported that Facebook was looking to create its own phone. Late last year, AllThingsD reported that a phone codenamed "Buffy" was being tested. The Times now reports that Facebook continues to work on the "Buffy" phone and has hired numerous hardware engineers, many of which are former Apple employees. According to the Times' sources, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg doesn't want Facebook to be just another app that runs on a phone.

Facebook would not comment directly on the statement and instead referred the Times  to a previous statement. "We're working across the entire mobile industry; with operators, hardware manufacturers, OS providers, and application developers." Last year, HTC released the HTC Status, an Android phone that offered a deeper Facebook experience with dedicated Facebook buttons.

According to  Facebook's IPO filing, out of its total 825 million users, 488 million actively accessed Facebook's mobile products in March. And with that, you can see why a Facebook phone might seem pretty appealing to the newly public company.