Facebook Phone to Debut Next Month?

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Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg's belittling of the idea of burning the social network's brand on a smartphone has done little to squash the rumors that such an animal will be unleashed this year. The latest prediction is that Taiwan-based phone maker HTC will pull the wraps off two smartphones bearing Facebook's brand and colors at an event in Barcelona next month.

The phones will run a "tweaked" version of Google's Android operating system and will prominently display their owner's Facebook messages and news feeds on the phone's home screen, City A.M., the online edition of a London-based free business newspaper, reported today in a story citing unnamed sources.

Another feature will be the ability to e-mail or call friends from information located on a user's Facebook page.

Joe Hewitt, who developed the Facebook app for the iPhone but left the platform in a huff, and Matthew Papakipos, director of engineering at Facebook, are thought to be behind the launch, according to the business newspaper.

Similar reports of a Facebook phone appeared last fall. At that time, Bloomberg reported that INQ Mobile was working on a pair of Facebook-branded smartphones that would be released in Europe during the first half of 2011 and in the United States in the second half of that year.

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