This is the news that never ends. Yes, it goes on and on, my Facebook friend. I am, of course, referring to the news that the social networking company is making its own smartphone. It was first reported back in 2010, but the plan at that time was eventually scrapped. Then, last year, Facebook struck a deal with HTC to to make a smartphone, codenamed “Buffy” after “The Avengers” director Joss Whedon’s famous vampire slayer. And now, according to The New York Times’ Nick Bilton, Mark Zuckerberg and company are at it again.
While the announcement that Facebook is making a proprietary smartphone is old news, the report that it’s hiring Apple engineers to that end is not. That’s right. Bilton reports that the company has already recruited “more than half a dozen former Apple software and hardware engineers who worked on the iPhone, and one who worked on the iPad.”
One of the reasons cited for the company’s difficulties with its past smartphone projects was that it lacked in-house talent. So, for its third try, it has resorted to hiring engineers already experienced in building smartphone software and hardware such as Apple’s iOS and iPhone. However, Facebook’s upcoming device, which is slated for as early as next year, is expected to compete more aggressively with Google’s Android. The social networking giant is said to challenge the search giant particularly in being heavily invested in advertising as a way of subsidizing low-cost devices.
But even as it’s not poised to take on Apple’s iPhone, Facebook’s smartphone might further widen the gulf between the two Silicon Valley corporations. Facebook maintains a number of standalone apps in the App Store, namely, Facebook for iOS, Facebook Messenger, Facebook Pages Manager, and the recently released Facebook Camera. The company has also acquired Instagram, one of the most popular iOS apps in the history of the platform, to the tune of one billion dollars. Nevertheless, the interoperability between Facebook and Apple has been stunted by certain disagreements between the two companies, as evidenced by the lack of Twitter-like Facebook integration in iOS. But considering Facebook’s recruitment of select Apple engineers, will we be seeing some part of iOS being “integrated” into Facebook’s own smartphone OS in the near future?