Facebook to try again with its own smartphone, going after ex-Apple talent

Facebook branded phone kickstand rumor
Undeterred by such things as “Falling stock prices” and “Federal investigations into underwriters involved in its IPO,” Facebook is continuing to move forward with plans for its own smartphone, according to new reports surfacing this weekend that also give some hints at what any future phone might be like.

The New York Times reported this weekend that Facebook is once again considering launching its own line of smartphones, according to anonymous sources within the company, but that current plans are on a far grander scale than the initial “Buffy” phones rumored last November. Amongst the new developments reported by the newspaper, not only has the company hired more than half a dozen former Apple employees who had worked on hardware and software for the iPhone and iPad, but sights may be set on multiple targets this time around:

Now, the company has been going deeper into the process, by expanding the group working on Buffy, and exploring other smartphone projects too, creating a team of seasoned hardware engineers who have built the devices before.

The prospect of launching multiple mobile devices is something that makes some experts nervous, including former Apple manager Hugo Fiennes, who told the Times that “building isn’t something you can just jump into. You change the smallest thing on a smartphone and you completely change how all the antennas work. You don’t learn this until you’ve been doing it for a while.” According to one internal anonymous source, the company already knows this, with the project having to be rebooted multiple times after the failure of earlier prototypes and the realization that it needed to work with experienced hardware designers – Hence the former Apple hires.

Another anonymous source argues that Facebook can’t afford not to move into the smartphone business if it wants to stay relevant, at least according to the man in charge. “Mark [Zuckerberg, Facebook founder] is worried that if he doesn’t create a mobile phone in the near future that Facebook will simply become an app on other mobile platforms,” the source is quoted as saying. Whether or not that’s true is a matter of opinion, considering the fates of other companies that have tried (and failed) to compete in the smartphone space, but the paper suggests that there’s always a Plan B the company may want to consider should plans to build its own phone come to nothing yet again: Buy out an existing phone company.

If nothing else, it’d make more sense than buying Instagram…