Is Android Building The Unthinkable Facebook Phone?

By Justin Lafferty 

Facebook Co-Founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg has constantly laughed off the thought of a Facebook phone, but it appears that the company will announce Thursday the closest thing to such a product. Sources have leaked information to tech news sites, saying that a future Android phone will have a Facebook home screen and built-in Facebook integration. But would you buy it?

Reports suggest that while Facebook and Android aren’t officially building a Facebook phone, the so-called HTC Mist will be the next-best thing.

Sources told TechCrunch that Facebook will be fully integrated into the phone and be especially present on the home screen. Instead of having to access the Facebook native application to check notifications or see what friends are up to, that information will be present immediately.

Android Police reportedly got a hold of this new phone and posted several screen shots, as well as an in-depth walk-through of what this new technology is. The blog couldn’t get too much access, as the test was only available for Facebook employees.

According to Android Police, the phone will be like a normal HTC device, but one with full Facebook integration:

According to this rom, the Facebook phone looks to be a mostly stock, mid-range Sense 4.5 phone that was attacked by a mutant Facebook app. Everything seems to be focused on the Facebook app — they haven’t made their own Android skin, or anything like that. Sadly, we can’t get too many more details, because just about everything requires that you have special access to Facebook.

Judging from another one of Android Police’s screen shots, the new Messenger application will show not only what friends are online, but what friends are nearby.

But as Read Write wondered Monday, who would buy this phone? Facebook users love Facebook, but they don’t want it in every aspect of their lives. There are already privacy concerns over targeted advertising, and the location-tracking services within Facebook’s apps can be a little spooky. Read Write noted that teenagers won’t want this phone, and neither will businesses:

Facebook’s play is very similar to Google’s — the more it knows about its users, the better it can serve them advertising. A Facebook phone would tell the social giant a lot about its users. It could then push users to its contextual Facebook Graph Search and serve them ads through it. Facebook could also integrate its various Android apps (Messenger, Camera, etc.) and application store to offer more value and context.

You know what? Google already does that, and probably will do it better. It has been imagining Android and its future for a long time, and each successive iteration is better, more contextual, and slicker-looking than the last. Facebook has neither the experience or the time to match Android.

 Readers: Would you buy a Facebook phone?