I don’t get the Facebook phones that HTC has announced at Mobile World Congress. From what I read, what makes the HTC Salsa and ChaCha a Facebook phone is that they have a hardware button that helps redirect information to Facebook. While the button sounds like it will make it easier to post things on Facebook, it doesn’t provide functionality that I can’t already do with my Nexus S or my HD 7.
While I spend a fair amount of time in Facebook, it is not the center of my online world. I spend as much time checking Twitter or my RSS feeds on my phones as I do reading Facebook. Android and Windows Phone 7 already provide integration with Facebook by integrating my Facebook friends into my phone’s address book, so I don’t need a Facebook phone for that capability. If I want to quickly add a Facebook status I can add the Facebook widget on my home screen, or just tap my live tile in Windows Phone 7. I have no interest in adding the appointments in my calendar to Facebook so that all of my friends can see what I am doing every day.
Between the two phones, the ChaCha is the most intriguing because of it has a front-facing QWERTY hardware keyboard. While HTC is making the ChaCha a Facebook phone, one could also consider it an equivalent to a Blackberry, though I am not sure how good the keyboard actually is to type on. The problem I have with the ChaCha is that its 2.6-inch screen is too small to see much more than one Facebook status on the screen, and I want to see more on my smartphone than it provides. The Salsa is another variation of HTC’s “standard” smartphone design, except for that Facebook button, which is off center and looks out of place.
I look forward to seeing how well these phones, which appear slated for AT&T and T-Mobile, will sell. Frankly, I think the Facebook portion of these phones are a novelty and the phones themselves don’t standout from other smartphones, so I will be surprised if they sell very well.