Facebook is set to announce something big tonight during an event where it invited guests to “come see our new home on Android”.
While there have been persistent rumours about a Facebook smartphone, we believe that it won’t be the case as it would be a very slippery road for the social networking giant, one that could put it in direct competition with some very close partners.
All mobile phone manufacturers actively use social networking services (Facebook and Twitter) to push the new and existing customers to upgrade from feature phones to smartphones.
Additionally mobile phone operators are keen to exploit SNS to push data as an essential (lucrative) added value beyond text and minutes.
Other being one of the few services to be present on all smart and dumb mobile platforms (from Ubuntu to S40), Facebook also dipped its toes in the past with a closer collaboration with some vendors.
For example, HTC launched a pair of handsets, Salsa and ChaCha, which both had a blue dedicated Facebook button on the front while Motorola and Vodafone unveiled the Motokey and the 555 handsets, both of which had that dedicated button. Another company, the London-based outfit INQMobile, launched the INQ, the INQ Mini 3G and Chat 3G which had even deeper integration.
Ultimately though, none of them were massively popular and the “experiment” quickly fizzled out. There’s no smoke without fire and the leaked “Facebook phone” software as well as the HTC First rumour means that a phone tonight shouldn’t be discounted.
Of course, Facebook could go radically off course and announce tonight that it will build something based on Opera, whose acquisition it might also announce tonight. But that’s more April fool’s stuff. Still, there were rumours last year about Facebook buying Opera.
So if it is not a phone what could it be? Facebook’s “New Home on Android” event will be broadcast live online at 6PM for what it calls a product announcement. You will be able to view it on Live.facebooklive.com.