Rumors have been saying for the past two years that Facebook is working on its own smartphone. According to The New York Times today, Facebook has been hiring former Apple engineers who worked on the iPhone and iPad. The new talent will reportedly help Facebook try to build its own smartphone by next year, according to the report.
The company has already hired more than half a dozen former Apple software and hardware engineers who worked on the iPhone, and one who worked on the iPad, the employees and those briefed on the plans said.
One engineer who formerly worked at Apple and worked on the iPhone said he met with Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s chief executive, who then peppered him with questions about the inner workings of smartphones. It did not sound like idle intellectual curiosity, the engineer said; Mr. Zuckerberg asked about intricate details, including the types of chips used, he said. Another former Apple hardware engineer was recruited by a Facebook executive and was told about the company’s hardware explorations.
Facebook’s smartphone project is codenamed “Buffy,” a nod to the TV show created by Avengers director Joss Whedon.
According to the Times, it has taken Facebook more than two years to develop a smartphone because the company originally thought it could be successful by operating totally in-house. Now it appears that the company has realized it needs help, as Zuckerberg and Co. have gone knocking on the doors of the most sought after talent in the field, Apple engineers.
Facebook has always had a strong presence in the iOS App Store, as its official iPhone/iPad app consistently sits near the top of the charts. The company has also released standalone Facebook Messenger and Facebook Camera apps for the iPhone. Facebook recently bought Instagram, a premiere iPhone photography app, for $1 billion.
Apple added Twitter integration in iOS 5, and Facebook was rumored to be apart of the OS before it was previewed to the public. Mark Zuckerberg and Steve Jobs never really saw eye to eye, according to reports, and the two companies were not able to come to an agreement on both iOS 5 and Ping integration.
If Facebook were to make a smartphone, the device would most likely not compete with the iPhone, but with Google’s Android. Facebook makes its bread and butter off of advertising, and the phone would likely be targeted at the lower (possibly prepaid) end of the consumer phone market.
Source: The New York Times.