Do we Really Need a Facebook Phone?

On April 4th, Facebook are expected to announce a venture into the smartphone world, with a customised version of Android running on HTC hardware. 9to5google:

The phone’s software is a forked version of the Android operating system. Facebook’s features, like messaging, photo uploading, and contacts integration is fully integrated throughout the operating system.

A few years ago, a Facebook phone would have made sense, but now, by installing the Facebook Android apps, you already have messaging and integrated photo uploading. Contacts integration is a feature of iOS and Windows Phone already, and it’s likely the next version of Android will also introduce this on all devices. I don’t understand who will buy this device, apart from someone who thinks it may be ‘cool’ to have a ‘Facebook’ phone, just like it’s apparently cool to have a ‘Blackberry’.

The New York Times offered reasoning for this endeavour:

For Facebook, the motivation is clear; as a newly public company, it must find new sources of revenue, and it fears being left behind in mobile, one of the most promising areas for growth.

There is no doubt that Facebook’s falling stock prices have worried the company, and mobile will of course be a good source of revenue. But if Facebook really want to make money from this phone, I can envision them creating an advert riddled OS, which will hamper the Android experience.

Facebook don’t need to make a phone. They most likely will not come anywhere near the success of Apple or Samsung, and while HTC may benefit from having a new, high-publicity phone in their lineup, I don’t see it doing wonders for the hardware company either. Something inside me hopes that this phone will be more radical than we are expecting, and will shake up the market, but it’s more likely we’ll see an average Android smartphone with a logo on the back and an OS plagued with adverts and unnecessary social integration.