With the reported success of Amazon's Kindle Fire tablet, it was inevitable that more top Web companies would want to develop Android devices of their own, and Facebook is no exception. See also: Amazon phone launch live blog.
All Things D reported this week that Facebook is indeed working on an Android-based smartphone that's currently code-named "Buffy." And just as Amazon heavily modified Android to create a distinctly Amazon-centric device, Facebook will apparently modify Android to tailor it around its own services. Facebook has also reportedly picked HTC as its device maker, which makes sense since the Taiwanese company was the very first manufacturer to come out with an Android phone way back in 2008. All Things D also reports that Facebook's smartphone will support HTML5 for all of its apps, which isn't surprising since HTML5 has become the de facto standard for games and videos on mobile devices.
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Reaction to the rumored phone has been decidedly skeptical so far. PC World's Jared Newman, for one, is worried that a Facebook phone would give the social network company way too much control over our information, since the device would likely lock in a lot of core functions such as calendars and contact lists into Facebook software.
"It's already bad enough that when you buy an iPhone or an Android phone, you're pledging allegiance to the App Store or the Android Market, making it harder to switch platforms in the future," Newman writes. "With a Facebook phone, you'd be committing to one social infrastructure as well. Your Facebook friends list would become your address book. Facebook Events would become your calendar. Your software would be Facebook apps, all of them designed to share everything with everyone you know."
Similarly, Forbes' Ewan Spence said that releasing a phone of its own could be Facebook's "folly" since it would prove very difficult for the company to effectively partner with Apple or Google to create a device that would have a significant impact on the already-crowded smartphone market.
"The bridges might not be burned with Apple but they are shaky, besides iOS now has tight integration with Twitter," he writes. "And then there's the issue of Google Plus, which might put a dampener on a mobile marriage with Mark Zuckerberg's network."
Amazon also getting in the smartphone game
Since their Android-based tablet is already a hit, you just knew that it wouldn't take Amazon long to get into the smartphone game as well.
GeekSailor's Liviu Anca got hold of a leaked report from the Citigroup research department saying that Amazon could have its own smartphone ready for sale sometime during the fourth quarter of 2012. Citi analyst Mark Mahaney estimated in his research note that the Amazon phone will cost between $150 and $170 per unit to produce and speculated that the device might include an app capable of scanning products on the Amazon website and then "allows you to buy with a single tap," GeekSailor reported.
I guess the question here is whether Amazon will be able to do with smartphone pricing what the company did with tablet pricing by selling a top-notch device for significantly less than the competition. If Amazon can get its smartphone down into the $150 range or lower the company could have another hit on its hands.
Lenovo prepping 5-inch Android mini-tablet
Where, exactly, do you cross the line between a smartphone and a tablet? Lenovo is apparently trying to figure that out as Engadget has reported that the company is making a 5-inch tablet that will be branded the IdeaTab. Although Engadget didn't have many details on the tablet's hardware or software, it did note that it has "a strong resemblance to the Dell Streak." If that observation holds true, I wouldn't expect the Lenovo mini-tablet to shake up the tablet market significantly.
Red Droid Incredible 2 to drop soon
And finally, Justin Marden of the indispensable Android Guys has gotten word that a shiny red version of the HTC Droid Incredible 2 will be dropping for Verizon users this week. While it's not the most earth-shattering news out there, we have to admit that the Droid Incredible looks pretty spiffy in rouge. Marden speculates that the device will be a Black Friday special that will be discounted for all those holiday shoppers looking for a cool little Christmas gift.
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