Flickr/Simon DogettOn April 4, Facebook is expected to announce an Android operating system for an HTC phone that has deep Facebook integration.
When you turn on the phone, for example, your Facebook home screen may pay pop up. And the phone’s camera may directly connect to Facebook’s services, like Instagram. Sources have hinted at both those features to The New York Times’ Bits blog.
Still, it’s not clear anyone wants a Facebook phone, and if they did, there’s a good chance they wouldn’t want it on an HTC device. Other phones with deep Facebook integration have launched before, and they haven’t sold well. Earlier, HTC created a device called the Cha Cha which let users post photos instantly to Facebook. It was a bust. Another Android-Facebook phone attempt, the Inq Cloud Touch, was pulled before it went to market.
Let’s assume that the world really does want to buy a Facebook phone though. What would that mean for carriers like Verizon and AT&T?
Traditionally, they’ve made money by selling packages of minutes and SMS texts. A Facebook phone could eliminate the need to do either of these things through an AT&T or Verizon. Facebook has free call and chat features through its Messenger app. It could change carriers’ business models altogether; the notion has to have them a little freaked out.
MG Siegler, partner at venture firm CrunchFund and notable tech blogger, thinks a Facebook phone could turn carriers into the “dumb pipes they were meant to be.”
Presumably, [Facebook will] have at least one on board with the HTC phone. Facebook has been making a lot of noise about “free calls” within their Messenger apps — this could all but destroy the notion of cellular “minutes”.
Of course, that writing has been on the wall for some time. Data phones are the way going forward. Still, the carriers must be a little scared of the post-minutes, post-SMS world that this Facebook Phone highlights. It’s a huge change. The carriers are finally becoming the dumb pipes they were meant to be.
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