Report: Facebook-centric smartphone may launch later this year

HTC and Facebook, two companies already familiar with one another from their partnership on the ChaCha and Salsa handsets, are reportedly in the midst of jointly developing a new Android smartphone. DigiTimes cites insider sources in reporting that a specially customized Facebook-centric handset is set to launch in the latter half of this year. It's said to feature "a platform exclusive to Facebook," which will facilitate the integration of the social network's full feature set into the phone. Yes, that's all very general at this point, but we're inclined to believe there's some truth to this, following the moderately successful run of the ChaCha / ChaChaCha / Status device, which was handicapped by too little RAM yet still found an audience among lovers of physical keyboards and Facebook messaging.

A less credible claim from DigiTimes' sources is that Facebook will look to actually brand future smartphone devices with its own name. When HTC's first two Facebook-optimized phones were still mere rumor, Mark Zuckerberg came out strongly against the idea of there ever being a specific "Facebook phone," arguing that Facebook's strategy would be to make its services available universally, with the goal of being platform-agnostic. Maybe his mind has been swayed by market developments since then, but for now, you're best off expecting another HTC phone with Facebook DNA flowing through its veins, rather than a Facebook phone built on HTC hardware.

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