Facebook is back in the news with their alleged project of developing a Facebook mobile phone operating system that would run on a phone produced by a third-party manufacture.

Earlier this week TechCrunch released their article, that has stirred up a ton of controversy, making allegations that Facebook was working on an operating system for a mobile phone. The idea is that Facebook would focus on a phone that integrated Facebook features in to the phones native contact list and other integral parts of the phone.

Facebook PR quickly responded back denying any involvement in building a phone. They claim that they are not in the phone making business, and that they are deeply invested in varies other projects.

Dan Frommer, from Business Insider, and CNET Editor in Chief Scott Ard both say that they have confirmed through sources that Facebook is in fact “working on phone software.”

Since these rumors arose people have been debating whether Facebook would actually make a phone, and if so, would it be successful for them? I say, now more than ever, it is imperative for Facebook to make an aggressive move like this. In late August Google released Gmail Calls that were arguably targeted at Facebook. With Companies like Google who are rapidly buying up competing companies to strategically put them at an advantage on the world wide web, Facebook needs to get in the game. When Google started out it was just a search engine. When they came to realization that they were the largest search engine in the world, and when they began to understand the power that the largest search engine has, they exploded into several markets. With a 500 million user database sitting around why wouldn’t Facebook try to use that to their advantage?

So the question here is- Would the alleged Facebook Phone be a response to the Gmail Calls? I say, how could it not be? Facebook has not yet acquired any VOIP companies as Google has. This makes an integrated VOIP system not seem like a short term solution for them to fight back against Google’s move on them. Facebook has however, acquired Matthew Papakipos, the former leader of the Google Chrome OS. Matthew is an invaluable asset to any company who would be looking to create a mobile operating system (i.e. the Facebook Phone OS).

Another point that must be brought up is that would Facebook stay successful if they did not change their business model and adapt to their surroundings? Probably not. Companies like Google, Apple, and Microsoft, who are developing social networks of their own would eat them alive. The reality is that in order for Facebook to stay on top of the social media mountain, they need to make aggressive moves to keep their users loyal. A Facebook Phone, which would ideally be in all 500 million users hands all day long, would be a great way for them to keep people interested in Facebook. Sure, there are Facebook Apps on many phones already; however, those phones can cost a bit of money. This means there are several Facebook users in the world that still do not have a mobile phone in their hand that gives them mobile access to their status updates and more. As TechCrunch suggested, if Facebook made a phone that cost around $50, they could deliver that to a much greater demographic. This would get mobile Facebook into a much bigger chunk of that 500 million. Moral of the story- We don’t see Facebook going down without a fight. Facebook is no small company, so its competitors better not underestimate their ability to deliver a decent telecommunications product.

What do you think?

By: Josh Grillo