We don't think that tonight's Facebook announcement will be about a specific smartphone or device.
It would indeed be supremely ironical if within hours that Google announced that it was going to fork Webkit to create its own rendering engine (Blink), Facebook was going to do the same with Android.
It wouldn’t be the first time a company would have done that with Google’s popular platform. After all, it is an open source OS and as such, everybody (and anybody) will in theory be able to do just that.
It is my utmost conviction that Facebook will follow Amazon’s steps and announce a version of Android infused with Facebook DNA tonight, one devoid of default Google services like Talk.
Later today, we expect Facebook to release a customised operating system which will then be adopted by one or more Android manufacturers.
Just having an “enhanced app”, as some expect, would be nothing more than a tepid attempt to up the ante against Google. Oh and expect handsets (at least one from HTC) as well tonight.
Like Amazon, Facebook already have an App Store, albeit one with a very strong gaming bias and, like Google, it has a vested interest in capturing as much data as possible from the user in a bid to sell adverts to them and diversify its revenue streams.
These are the two cardinal aspects of what could see a “third way” in the evolution of mobile platforms, somewhere between a platform-dominated ecosystem (exemplified by iOS and Android) and a device-dominated ecosystem (exemplified by Samsung and Apple).
With more than one billion active users worldwide and mobile advertising revenue expected to reach nearly $1bn in the mobile US market alone (according to Emarketer), Facebook may only be preparing for a post-PC world where the overwhelming majority of its users will be using ONLY smartphones to visit the site.
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.