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Facebook to release a social smartphone, Buffy

Facebook is working on an Android-based smartphone, dubbed "Buffy," that will put the social network at the forefront of users’ mobile experiences -- and the company has asked HTC to manufacture the device.

gadgets Updated: Nov 23, 2011 17:54 IST

Facebook is working on an Android-based smartphone, dubbed "Buffy," that will put the social network at the forefront of users’ mobile experiences -- and the company has asked HTC to manufacture the device.



The latest set of Facebook phone rumors come courtesy of Liz Gannes and Ina Fried at technology blog All Things D.



All Things D reports that "the phone is planned to run on a modified version of Android that Facebook has tweaked heavily to deeply integrate its services, as well as to support


HTML5 as a platform for applications, according to sources familiar with the project."



The project has been a long time in the making (at least two years, according to All Things D) and Buffy may not see the light for another 12 to 18 months.



Rumors of a Facebook phone started circling the web in September 2010, but even back then Facebook PR denied the claims, saying "Facebook is not building a phone. Our approach has always been to make phones and apps more social."



However the mobile landscape has changed dramatically since 2010 -- a number of companies including HTC, INQ and Motorola have already partnered with Facebook to launch so-called "Facebook phones."



The already-available Facebook phones are mostly low-end smartphones that tout a deeply integrated social networking experience. Some offer a dedicated Facebook button.



MG Siegler believes Facebook’s denial is simply a matter of semantics. "While Facebook denied the project at the time of our report, there’s no question it has been real the entire time," he writes on his personal blog parislemon.



He adds, "Facebook is building a phone because Facebook has to build a phone. They can say all they want about being everywhere, partnering with everyone, peace and love, yadda yadda. The fact of the matter is that mobile is the future of computing and it’s currently controlled by two gate masters: Apple and Google."



Citigroup analysts suggest that Amazon is planning to enter the smartphone race too. Amazon is reportedly working on an Android-powered Kindle smartphone that could hit the shelves by Christmas 2012.