Facebook is in the process of developing a smartphone, having hired a small group of former Apple engineers. This is according to Nick Bilton of The New York Times, who citing unnamed sources, reported that Facebook has hired more than half a dozen former Apple engineers who worked on the iPhone, to create its own smartphone software and hardware.
Bilton cites employees of Facebook and several engineers who have been sought out by recruiters there, as well as people briefed on Facebook’s plans, as saying the company hopes to release its own smartphone by next year.
This would be Facebook’s third attempt at developing a smartphone. The first attempt was back in 2010, which was promptly scrapped when it decided to remain a software company. The second attempt code named buffy was reportedly a joint venture with HTC to build a smartphone that would have integrated Facebook as a central feature.
The unnamed sources are saying that Buffy is very much alive and the company is going “deeper into the process, by expanding the group working on Buffy, and exploring other smartphone projects too, creating a team of seasoned hardware engineers who have built the devices before”.
“Mark [Zuckerberg] is worried that if he doesn’t create a mobile phone in the near future that Facebook will simply become an app on other mobile platforms,” a Facebook employee said. For its part, Facebook has neither denied nor confirmed the reports.
A Facebook spokesman referred back to a previous statement that said: “We’re working across the entire mobile industry; with operators, hardware manufacturers, OS providers, and application developers.”