The mobile phone today is a highly sought after device and not merely for its immense potential for communication, but also that in today's fast paced, social networking powered world it's come to mean so much more. Having been doing what I do for so long now, it's ridiculous how many people ask me, "Should I buy XXX phone? And does it have Facebook access?" I mean really, are we still asking that question even today? We're in the 21st century, virtually everything, including your TV and possibly some microwaves and washing machines are hooked up to Facebook.
Handset manufacturers and even the carriers are banking on the power of social networking sites, like Facebook to help boost sales. But we've already had our share of Facebook handsets from the HTC Salsa and ChaCha to the Vodafone Blue 555. For the record and as an education to those unaware, all smartphones and some feature phones that are out there are already Facebook ready. They integrate your phonebook, calendar, phone etc. with the networking quite seamlessly. In fact, Facebook has updated its mobile service to include separate apps for the camera and messaging to counter rivals, like Instagram (also now part of the FB holdings), Whatsapp, Gtalk and others. This further cements the relationship between the smart operating systems and the social network. What more do you really need?
Getting back to the subject – sure it was only inevitable, in the current state of evolution that Zuckerberg would decide to delve into the mobile arena. The brand itself would be more than capable of selling a device. Naturally the handset/tablet what you have, would need to be of an open-source variety and the rumour mill is working overtime creating hype about a product that doesn’t yet exist.
Just how much more would you expect your ‘Facebook’ branded phone to do exactly? Let you post directly from the desktop, check, the Blue 555 had a widget for that. Would you able to easily share your pictures on your wall, pshaw, that’s already easily available on Android, iOS and WP7 operating systems. Ok how about sharing interesting links and quotes off the browser screen. Done, HTC’s Facebook button on the ChaCha and Salsa did just that with a single click. Perhaps you’d like to tag your friends in images you capture of them… no sweat, Samsung’s new Galaxy S III has the feature already.
Am I missing something? The Facebook app, itself allows you to do anything and everything you would on the web. Third party apps, like Friendcaster, Hootsuite and the ton of others available for all mobile OS’ ensure that you have all the FB goodies you can handle at your disposal in easy to use UIs. And let’s be honest, I’m sure that there are quite a few users out there who’ll agree that the native App for smartphones just doesn’t cut it. In fact, the mobile site is so much better.
So what can the company itself do that hasn’t already been tried, tested and implemented with varying rates of acceptance? Would a single device incorporating all these features into one space really be more receptive for the ‘smart-user’ or perhaps a better application for your smart device?
While I have enough respect for a great idea as the next guy, Facebook developing their own mobile OS and a corresponding handset to house all, seems redundant at best. From a marketing stand point however, it’s a brilliant way to capture the existing market and cater to the hungry-for-more-innovation mobile user. But it’s highly unlikely you’d give up your iPhones, Galaxy S’ or Xperias, of all price values for a Facebook branded handset. The ‘Facebook handset’, itself in the avatars of the ChaCha, Salsa and 555 tried and obviously didn’t fare as well as hoped bringing us back to the point of having a great brand endorsing a product that still didn’t sell well enough to make more.
As the rumours and facts start pouring in about the possible Facebook handset, I’m still not convinced whether we really need one. Perhaps those who live their lives on the fast social lane might have some use for it, but it would still be just another handset with a brand name that’s big enough to sell some hardware. We don’t need it!