Facebook 'to launch Android phone'

Mysterious invitation to social network's headquarters sparks internet rumours

PUBLISHED : Friday, 29 March, 2013, 1:00pm
UPDATED : Friday, 29 March, 2013, 1:04pm

Facebook is poised to launch an Android phone, according to rumours circulating the internet on Friday.

The social networking giant sent out invitations to an event at its Menlo Park, California, headquarters on April 4 called 'Come See Our New Home On Android', according to the influential TechCrunch site.

Sources told the site that the phone will run a modified version of the Android operating system running on HTC with features including a Facebook-based home screen with news feed stories and easy access to Facebook apps.

The phone - which could be called 'Facebook Home' may also rely on Facebook’s native apps like Messenger, easy social sharing from anywhere on the phone, TechCrunch reported.

Facebook already runs apps on iPhone and Android handsets. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has in the past denied that he plans to launch his own phone, saying in January: “It’s just not the right strategy for us.”

The announcement comes as a Facebook-sponsored study showed US smartphone owners tend to be connected to the social networking tool from the instant they rise until they fall sleep - and revel in every minute of it.

“Smartphones, coupled with rich applications and mobile data services, allow us to connect with our family, friends and community from the moment we wake up until the end of our day,” IDC researchers said in the report released this week.

“Rather than feeling overwhelmed by it, we enjoy and value this increased social connectedness.”

About half the US population uses smartphones, with the number of people expected to reach 181.4 million this year and climb to 222.4 million in the coming four years, according to IDC.

A week-long IDC survey of more than 7,000 people ranging in age from 18 to 44 years old with iPhones or Android-powered smartphones showed that four out of five check their handsets within 15 minutes of waking.

The top three applications used were for messaging; Web browsing, and Facebook, in that order, according to IDC.

“People have a universal need to connect with others, especially those they care deeply about,” IDC researchers said.

“This coupled with mass market adoption of smartphones means that social engagement via phones has become mainstream.”

About 84 percent of the time spent communicating with smartphones involved email, text messages, or social networks while only 16 percent relied on voice calls, the survey indicated.

“This increased sense of connectedness is the primary reason we use these technologies with the frequency and duration that we do,” IDC researchers concluded.