The Facebook phone saga continues to develop with Bloomberg reporting that Facebook is working closely with handset manufacturer INQ on two smartphones. The two phones will be powered by Android and will offer a wide range of Facebook-centric features. While the handset will integrate tightly with the social network, it is not known whether Facebook will slap its name on the side of the device.
These Facebook-centric smartphones are expected to debut in Europe in the first half of 2011 and in the US in the second half of 2011. Facebook is reportedly courting AT&T as a launch partner but the carrier is still evaluating the situation and has not signed any deal to carry the rumored Android phones.
This latest rumor fits in nicely with the prevailing opinion that suggests any mobile venture from the social network would use an existing platform like Android and would require a partnership with a manufacturer to create a socially-aware smartphone. Most folks in the tech world dismissed the idea of a handset designed and built by the Mark Zuckerberg-led company as being highly unlikely, especially given the recent, high-profile flop of the Microsoft Kin.
While the tech enthusiasts may prefer stock Android over a Facebook-centric version, I wonder how many of the 500 million Facebook users would pick up a handset merely because the phone was advertised with a big, blue Facebook logo. I am afraid it may be a shockingly high number.