Long story short. Facebook is building something secretly from its employees and only the high-level management is familiar with the project. The secret project is about software development and Joe Hewitt and Matthew Papakipos are working on it. Hewitt previously created the Facebook iPhone app and the Facebook iPhone website plus the popular Firefox extension Firebug. He’s also worked in Netscape during the creation of Firefox. Papakipos on the other side is a former member of the Chrome OS team (HTML5 was his specialty) plus he’s been involved in some hardware projects.
So about that Facebook phone…
The secret project is most probably a new mobile OS based completely on Facebook. It should integrate all Facebook stuff the same way Google does with its accounts. May be even better.
As the rumor has it, Facebook will most likely partner with another company for the hardware manufacturing. Perhaps it would be a cheap one, targeting a very large group of users.
All this information is still just a rumor, but I believe you will all agree it sounds pretty legit.
Update: A Facebook spokesman denied the company is working on a phone. The people mentioned above seem to be involved in projects about deeper Facebook integration into existing mobile operating systems. Here is the full statement:
“The story, which originated in Techcrunch, is not accurate. Facebook is not building a phone. Our approach has always been to make phones and apps more social. Current projects include include everything from an HTML5 version of the site to apps on major platforms to full Connect support with SDKs to deeper integrations with some manufacturers. Our view is that almost all experiences would be better if they were social, so integrating deeply into existing platforms and operating systems is a good way to enable this. For an example, check out Connect for iPhone and the integration we have with contact syncing through our iPhone app. Another example is the INQ1 phone with Facebook integration (the first so-called ‘Facebook Phone’). The people mentioned in the story are working on these projects. The bottom line is that whenever we work on a deep integration, people want to call it a ‘Facebook Phone’ because that’s such an attractive soundbite, but building phones is just not what we do.”