Facebook smartphone set to launch tomorrow

Facebook smartphone set to launch tomorrow

The communications industry is waiting with bated breath for tomorrow’s rumoured launch of the new Facebook mobile phone.

The new product is expected to feature an HTC handset with a customised Android operating system.

Six days ago the social networking company sent out invitations to a press event where it promised to show off the firm's 'new home on Android.'

The event will be held at the company's headquarters in Menlo Park, California tomorrow.

According to reports, the company has been working with the Taiwan-based HTC for over 12 months to make an Android-based phone that showcases Facebook's social networking services at its heart.

This is the first piece of hardware Facebook has created since its inception in 2004.

It’s unknown whether Facebook will "fork" Android – meaning customising the Google operating system so it blocks direct access to Google Play, Google mobile search and YouTube. This is what Amazon did to create Kindle Fire, also operating on Android.

Alternatively the social network might "skin" Android – meaning build a customised Facebook layer on top of the operating system.

Some reports have indicated the Facebook-centric operating system will come preloaded on the HTC phone and that the phone will automatically display a user's Facebook home page when the device is switched on.

The move is understood to be attempt by Facebook to significantly boost its revenue in the mobile space, after it released figures earlier this year showing massive growth potential in the sector.

According to Facebook, its mobile business accounted for 23% of total ad revenue in the last quarter of 2012, up from 14% in the third quarter.

HTC is the world's third-largest maker of smartphones and had a 6% share of the mobile phones sold in the U.S. in the fourth quarter of last year, down from 14% a year earlier, according to eMarketer.

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