There’s speculation surfacing today form the Washington Post that a Facebook phone may be in the works. While details about the phone are yet unknown or confirmed it’s probably safe to assume that the device wouldn’t feature an all encompassing mobile operating system like the iPhone OS or Google Android, after all that’s not what Facebook developers do, however it would be fun to predict what Facebook might offer.
First, I assume the device wouldn’t be as expensive as a high-end Smartphone, rather falling in the “mid-range” area. Facebook wants their users to stay connected to their site and engage with their property when on other websites (Like buttons, Share buttons, etc), a decent browser with built in “like” functionality would make sense, but the ability to add third-party, non-Facebook platform based apps and perform other functions outside of emailing probably wouldn’t be of big concern, at least not during the company’s first foray into the market. If they really wanted an OS they could just hack apart Google Android much in the same way Verizon and other companies have made that system their own (gotta love Linux open source platforms).
The phone would probably offer a dedicated “Like” button that could be used when browsing the web, allowing users to share posts from any website they choose, regardless of whether that site offers Like buttons of their own.
I would also predict that friends could be called with the press of a button. Facebook could create their own Skype type network based on WiFi services, but that seems a little cumbersome, instead, if a friend has a phone number saved in their profile, you could simply click on the call friend button from their profile and make a call. The system could also allow friends most recent status messages to be displayed on their contact information screen, allowing you to know what their up to right before you make a call.
The phone might also have the ability to import contact information from your friends profiles to create new contacts that you might have been missing in your phone. I know plenty of people with 100 friends and 10 names in their phones, the Facebook phone could allow users to stay better connected when offline, while contact lists could be updated with new numbers if someone changes their profile cell phone or home phone numbers.
Social gaming would also be at the forefront of the phone. While a full OS might not be present, it would be easy for Facebook to use current APIs to allow for Farmville and other games to easily play on their newly minted phone. Facebook games are simplistic in nature in terms of graphics and they allow users to connect with each other, adding the ability to text or message items to each other could add a new level of gameplay from users phones.
I would also expect that the system would allow for multi-tasking so Facebook and Facebook chat type systems could run in the background at all times, providing pop-up messages for friends status messages much like we see with Tweet Deck for Twitter and various other “always on” third party network applications.
Throwing in a touchscreen with multi-touch would also be a good idea since zooming in and out and moving around the Facebook screen is important do to over crowding of Facebook page options. I don’t necessarily think the screens resolution needs to be of the OLED type since high speed game playing and HD video isn’t a focus for the Facebook property. However a sliding qwerty keyboard or frontside keyboard would be necessary to allow for quick status updates and Facebook chat. I would again like to see a dedicated “Like” button on the keyboard for quick sharing capabilities.
One of the biggest challenges for Facebook would be creating a useful phone that gives users a way to stay connected, while not limiting their use to the point that the phone does little more than connect to Facebook and make calls. With the Facebook API invading various sites and applications all over the world, the possibility of a Facebook phone is a unique idea.
Now for the bad news, Facebook execs have denied the rumors that have circulated about the phone, then again Google wasn’t exactly preaching about Google Android before it was finally released and look where that has taken their brand recognition.
What would you like to see in a Facebook phone?