Facebook and HTC may be working together to produce a Facebook-branded smartphone, according to recent reports. Given Google's continued reliance on Samsung for its own branded devices and HTC's own steadily dropping revenues, the company needs the kind of boost that a Facebook phone could offer.
Citing "industry sources," DigiTimes is reporting that the phone is slated for a third-quarter launch at the earliest. The Facebook phone will be run a version of the Android OS modified to include deep Facebook integration.
There have been rumors for years that Facebook would get into the mobile phone business, but nothing has ever materialized. Opinions vary on whether a foray into the mobile handset market would be a good move for the social network. HTC, on the other hand, very much needs the kind of boost that a Facebook-branded phone could (potentially) offer. While the original Google-branded Android phone, the Nexus One, was made by HTC, the company's relationship with Google soured and subsequent Nexus phones were produced by Samsung (including the most recent Galaxy Nexus, which has proven immensely popular).
HTC has struggled significantly in recent months. Yesterday, around the time Apple was releasing its first quarter figures, HTC was doing the same. While Apple turned in another impressive quarter, the news for HTC was nowhere near as good: the company posted a 70% reduction in net profits, a tumble with CEO Peter Chou specifically laid at the feet of Apple's iPhone 4S.
As noted above, a Facebook-branded smartphone has been grinding around in the rumor mill for years without ever actually coming to fruition. While it's possible that HTC and Facebook really are working on a phone, it's just as possible that they're not, or that any phone they're working on will never see the light of day. That being the case, it's probably best to keep this one in the "believe it when you see it" bin until more information surfaces.