A "Facebook Phone" is not a new concept, with Zuckerberg's gang having been working away on "Project Buffy" since long before the partnership with HTC that saw a pair of handsets ship with dedicated Facebook buttons. a new report from the New York Times suggests Facebook's hardware ambitions are growing once again.
"The company has already hired more than half a dozen former Apple software and hardware engineers who worked on the iPhone, and one who worked on the iPad, the employees and those briefed on the plans said," reads the piece in the NY Times.
"One engineer who formerly worked at Apple and worked on the iPhone said he had met with Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook's chief executive, who then peppered him with questions about the inner workings of smartphones. It did not sound like idle intellectual curiosity, the engineer said; Mr. Zuckerberg asked about intricate details, including the types of chips used, he said. Another former Apple hardware engineer was recruited by a Facebook executive and was told about the company's hardware explorations."
Slowly but surely, Facebook are indeed building up a portfolio of apps that would support an own-branded device. We've already had the core Facebook app for quite some time, but recent additions such as Messenger and Facebook Camera could prove key properties were they to expand into the hardware space and need to fill a device with first-party software.
There's also talk of Facebook buying out the web browser Opera, as well as the mega-rich company being well placed to build their own mobile operating system..
While the New York Times' suggestion that a Facebook Phone could be ready by as early as next year feels a little optimistic, there's certainly a lot going on at Facebook HQ at the moment.