Is Facebook building a phone? The company won’t say for sure, but for some the idea of a Facebook phone is social networking overkill. To social butterflies, a Facebook phone is a dream come true. Here is a look at the pros and cons.
Jared also mentioned that other manufacturers are integrating their own iterations of social feeds into their smartphones. HTC has Friend Feed, Microsoft has People Hub, Palm has Synergy, and BlackBerry 6 will have its own stream. Since these social feeds include Facebook — the biggest social network of them all — it only makes sense that Facebook would have its own smoother, faster and better stream.
500 Million People and Counting
If the Facebook phone emphasizes socialization — as it surely would — it has a unique opportunity to connect the site’s more than 500 million users. Think about friend-discovery features that utilize shared interests and nearby locations. Though this would have to be an opt-in service for the sake of safety and privacy, interested parties could reach out to strangers and make new friends. Finally, social networking goes beyond the Web.
Facebook has Sex Appeal
Whenever Facebook changes its user interface, fans rebel, but one thing is for certain: Facebook has an attractive and recognizable blue-and-white interface, and could bring this aesthetic to a smartphone’s physicality. So many smartphones nowadays are boring black and require cases to glow with color. Add a splash of Facebook’s blue and that will change the bland non-color trend.
Profits Could Turn Facebook into the Next Google
When Facebook unveiled its news search feature earlier this month, it was apparent that the site had plans to branch out from its roots — and take on Google in the search game. If these types of innovations continue, and Facebook makes a bundle off a phone, the company could invest more time and money into battling the big dogs of search.
Other Social Apps Shut Out
Facebook is the most popular social networking tool, but that doesn’t mean it’s the only game in town — one cannot forget Foursquare and its comrades. A branded smartphone would obviously need apps, but would Facebook allow competition into the arena, or, given that it’s attempting to be the go-to app when it comes to location-based services, will it ban the apps we know and love?
Big Privacy Concerns
Facebook is practically synonymous with privacy violations, and a Facebook phone would present the same problems all over again. Just like connecting 500 million people across the globe could be a cool idea, it could also flake out, get hacked or otherwise splinter and unleash boatloads of private user data into the wireless stratosphere, just like AT&T did with the iPad. Not only would people know exactly where you are, they’d have access to your contacts, stored credit card numbers, and other stalker-friendly information.
This is just a prediction, but eventually Facebook’s omnipresence is going to give us a vomitous Pavlovian reaction to the name. People are abandoning Facebook for grass-roots social networks like Diaspora and Scoop, which promise better privacy controls, less aggressive advertising, or, in the case of Scoop, a college-only exclusivity that has an “I’m special” appeal opposite of Facebook’s “I’m everywhere” repute. A Facebook phone might intensify this feeling and even turn heads away in disgust.