The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

HTC to release Facebook-centric smartphone

The technology world has been abuzz in recent weeks after reports surfaced that Facebook has hired cell phone manufacturer HTC to build a smartphone specifically revolving around the leading social networking site.

The report, which broke on the technology site Nov. 21, claims Facebook will release a modified version of the Android phone in the next 12 to 18 months.

Although the phone is still only rumored, it has picked up the code name of “Buffy”–apparently a nod to the erstwhile WB Television Network’s female vampire slayer of the same name.

It has been widely reported that the phone will run HTML5 — the latest language for structuring and presenting content on the internet — and will deeply integrate different Facebook features into the basic platform of the phone. It has been speculated by different blogs that the phone will sync messages, photos and contacts between the site and the phone.

At this point, Facebook has declined to comment directly on or acknowledge the phone.

“Our mobile strategy is simple: We think every mobile device is better if it is deeply social,”  a spokesperson told AllThingsD. “We’re working across the entire mobile industry; with operators, hardware manufacturers, OS providers and application developers to bring powerful social experiences to more people around the world.”

A University of New Hampshire study reported that 96 percent of college students use Facebook. Facebook reports there are currently 350 million users that access the site on smartphones. Despite these statistics, some Marquette students doubt whether they will ever buy a Facebook-produced phone.

Chris Fouche, a sophomore in the College of Engineering, said certain privacy blips in Facebook’s past make him question whether he would ever use such a phone.

“I wouldn’t trust a phone that is built for Facebook,” Fouche said. “If anything, I’d get a smartphone and use Facebook on that. There’s no point to having something built around Facebook. It isn’t that important a part of my life.”

Rumors of a Facebook phone have led some experts to speculate the site is looking to raise revenues before the company’s initial public offering of stock, anticipated in spring 2012.

In a CBS News article, business writer Erik Sherman said executives may be fearing a drop in their market valuation similar to what happened to Groupon earlier this year.

Sherman said Facebook appears to be following a model initially used by Amazon, which has expanded their business operations to produce tablets. Sherman cited Facebook’s failure to reach their expected revenues in the first half of the year by falling 25 percent short — though they did still bring in $1.6 billion during that time period.

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