The real reasons behind a Facebook smartphone

Two days ago I was relaxing in Brick Lane with a good friend who happens to be fairly smart and competent in the digital industry, and while discussing bits and bobs of life in the XXI century it suddenly seemed clear that Facebook might want to give it a shot at creating its own mobile phone.

Fast forward, well, 24 hours, and that’s exactly what TechCrunch says: “Facebook is secretly building a phone“.

While the article suggests that such a move would be dictated from concerns for “the increasing power of iPhone and Android”, I see two more fundamental reasons (reinforced by the suggestion that Facebook would be developing the phone on the Android OS):

  1. As my friend neatly summed up, “Your mobile phone is your real social network“. As simple as that.
  2. The second reason is less defensive and more about growth: moving out of a browser/app page into which you have to cram all your functionalities, and into a more complex platform where you can re-allocate them, allows Facebook to better exploit the potential of its many features. They already did this with “Facebook everywhere” , turning every web page into a Facebook-social property and its “Like” button into a larger Digg. Doing the same on a mobile phone would allow users to “Like” and “Share” things in real life. This could be the real trigger for “Places”, and could have gigantic implications. (eg. social commerce in the real world)

While the mobile market is extremely competitive and complicated, the option of a Facebook smartphone is made at least credible by three assets Facebook can count on: the right internal talent to give it a shot; half a billion users worldwide, including 150 (one-hundred-and-fifty) million mobile users; the necessary combination of supreme ambition and arrogance to deem it feasible.

Here are more reasons why Facebook is likely to be considering this: definitely worth a read.

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