Will Facebook Phone Be A Success If It Comes? [EDITORIAL]

Facebook HTC Phone

The journey of Cell phones evolution  has been an adventurous one. This tiny little object  has slowly crawled in our lives and today  has acquired a place which  make some of us wonder that, how could people do earlier when there were no cell phones. Their utility established  the  cell  phones started  offering newer features to the customer beyond normal communication  starting from, pictures, music to movies and  then the Internet.

Facebook Logo

The idea of your Facebook moving with you real time was an instant hit  since today we live in a world where Facebook is  almost an obsession for some  and an addiction for many. We update our status regularly and some of us also eager to know the updates of others. We upload pictures and express our opinions on events happening in the world. No matter whether they are important, unimportant or trivial.

We are equally passionate for accessing  Facebook from our phone. In many countries, Blackberry gained popularity because in those countries, it was the first smart-phone in those countries with which people could access Facebook. For Apple‘s iPhone, there are apps dedicated to Facebook. For many people, smart-phones like iPhone, Blackberry and Android became a craze due to addiction to Facebook.

Sarah Michelle Geller Mark Zuckerberg

We have come across some online reports that Facebook is all set to compete with Blackberry, iPhone and Android by launching a smart-phone of its own. Facebook phone is bound to attract the attention and money from Facebook addicts and Facebook would naturally expect it to be a hit commercially. The tweaks say that the Facebook phone secret project has been named as “Buffy”, inspired from Buffy The Vampire Slayer.

Though Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg is denying the news of  Facebook creating a smart-phone, it is being said Joe Hewitt and Matthew Papakipos, two high-level Facebook employees are working on Facebook phone and this project is so secretive that even most of the Facebook staff are also unaware about it.

The idea of a Facebook phone sounds great, however,  the idea comes accompanied  with some speculations and other tweaks as well. It is being said that browsing other social networking websites like Twitter and MySpace  would not be possible in Facebook Phone. Now here, this theory becomes hard to believe because someone investing millions of dollars in a product would not deliberately create such limitation for his  product. Consumers are accustomed to devices that can handle multitasking, access any service, and tap into all social networks, which according to online speculations and theories, may not fall in line with the Facebook’s agenda. There must be some other features in Facebook phone because with so many Facebook apps for iPhone and the use of Facebook on other smart-phones, nobody would justify the purchase of a smart-phone, just to use Facebook. A Facebook centric device does not guarantee high amount of revenue over investment. Nor does  it guaranty a  record-breaking sales like those of iPhone 4S.

Facebook Phone Button

It has to be kept in mind that a quasi-Facebook phone called HTC Status is already in the  market and its status  is not very healthy. It has a “Facebook button” with Facebook Logo on it. Even the efforts made by AT&T to push it with a Facebook integrated key did not work. Launched in July, now phone is given on a two-year contract. The  only positive thing about HTC Status was that it was budget friendly and thus, it would cost just $49.99.

Facebook HTC

According to some reports, the new Facebook is likely to allow Amazon’s path in creating its own highly customized version of Android to power the phone. The problem with such a strategy is, that  you lose access to the kind of core services Google powers, including Android Market and Gmail. Facebook might consider it questionable and debatable, as it would want to run its own messaging and e-mail services on the device, anyway.

People who rely on AIM , Yahoo Messenger or G-Talk for instant messages, or G-Mail for their e-mail are not going to like it if the Facebook really comes out to have only Facebook centric  Chat and  applications.

Last year, Facebook started an e-mail service and this new service did not find as many takers as expected. The idea of integrating your Facebook social network into your address book sounds great,however, it does not work in practice. Using tools provided by the likes of HTC or Samsung Electronics to do this in Android smartphones does not fetch desired results. Doing this can result in creating a labyrinthine list of people with whom you maintain little to no contact.

Smartphone business is a profitable business but entering this business is not as easy as one thinks. One has to work with work with carriers if it wants sales or subsidies. To bring the Facebook phone in market, Facebook would need to strike deals with retail outlets and spend a hefty amount of money for marketing and promotion. Once Google had attempted to circumvent the system and sell its Nexus One directly to consumers, and it was overwhelmed by customer service issues, even if the sales of device were poor.

Apple is already a strong brand and it has been a frontrunner  in the world of technology for a long time. That is why, it could enter the smart-phone market with iPhone and created  a revolution in the market. Facebook  though a popular brand, has not been in the business of selling phones so far. Thus, if this theory is really true, their will be interesting  business lessons to be learnt as we don’t really know  what will be the final consumer’s response.

Also, Facebook does not charge Facebook users for creating a profile and staying in touch with friends.  It remains to be seen that , how much will  one would have to pay for the Facebook phone to use Facebook on it? Will the phone be free on a two year contract? Just like RadioShack who are offering 16 GB iPhone 4 at $99 on a two-year contract. Online reports indicate  that investment to make one Facebook phone is  around $700. Thus, commercially  Facebook and HTC cannot afford to give away  the phone for free even if they want to.

We will wait and watch, as the events unfold in coming months but one thing is certain. The leaps in technology and the competition has also risen the customer’s expectations with a device to have no limits. What was once purely conceptual a few years back  is not only real today, but some has even become obsolete. That is the pace of technological revolution today. With large brands continuously  working on varied strategies of cornering larger and larger  consumer shares of the market, only one thing remains certain. Whatever may be the outcome of this  technological war between business titans, the winner will ALWAYS  be that  bemused but smiling  spectator  called  CONSUMER! Facebook! Are you listening?

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