We’ve hear these rumors come and go. Facebook wants to pull an Apple (or is it pulling a Google in this case?) and try their hand at the mobile market. Every time talks seem to surface about Facebook pushing forward in creating a mobile device they are quickly silenced by the company, but now a new report from Bloomberg indicates that sources working close to the matter have informed them that the Facebook team has indeed teamed up with handset manufacturer INQ for a new set of mobile devices based on Android and with tight social integration. The report continues that the devices will be available in Europe sometime in early 2011 and then potentially make their way to the States via AT&T around early summer.
Perhaps the most convincing part of this bit of insider info is the precedent set by a previous collaboration between the two companies regarding feature phones. Those devices weren’t Facebook-branded but still had a deep integration with the social network. Facebook hasn’t flat out denied that they are working with the company currently either.
The biggest caveat arrises in that there is still a good chance the phone won’t actually be called the “Facebook Phone” or FacePhone or PhoneBook or whatever. Really all we can know for certain is that these INQ devices might get better Facebook support than what is currently available via the official Android app.
And all of this begs the question: is one social network really a sturdy enough platform to build an entire mobile experience around? Granted, Facebook has become deeply integrated into the web (just check out the like button on this very page as an example), but can it provide a rich enough experience to really convince people they need a phone based around the service? The answer to that question may reveal the truth about whether or not we ever see a Facebook phone. But then again, it may not.