Can Facebook’s Buffy “Stake” Its Claim In The Smartphone Market?

I swear, that’s my last bad “Buffy” pun.

Various news outlets from The New York Times to the BBC are reporting that Facebook is reconsidering an entry into the smartphone market.

For some time now, the social media giant has teased the idea of launching a phone of their own. However, early reports indicated that the project started and stopped several times until it was ultimately determined that the actual complete process of making a phone from concept to manufacturing was harder than anticipated, and the idea was scrapped.

Now though the project seems to be back in earnest. Codenamed “Buffy” (which is odd considering Buffy was a TV character that slayed things that were better off left dead), the smartphone’s hardware is reportedly going to be worked on by HTC Corp, while Facebook will internally handle the software development, which could include an independent operating system. To help get the phone out by its alleged 2013 target date, reports are that Facebook is looking for former Apple and other high end smartphone developers to add to the team, of which they may have already hired almost half a dozen.

Everything revealed so far has suggested that Facebook is taking this project very seriously. The word around the company is that Mark Zuckerberg is worried that if Facebook doesn’t make a play to start its own phone service, that it will become just another mobile app and get lost in the shuffle of the new world order of smartphone superiority. Not to mention that Facebook could lose out on advertising revenue if it starts being accessed primarily through a third party device.

Facebook still carries a lot of name value, and its internal app market could potentially be very popular if kept exclusive to its new phone, but I still think this sound like a case of overreaching. If the initial conclusion was that smartphone development was going to be too complex just a year ago, I don’t know what could have changed their minds in the meantime. Well, besides that slightly embarrassing public offering fiasco of course.  But if this is all an effort to extend Facebook’s reach enough for them to wipe some egg off of their face, things could turn ugly.

The BBC offers an interesting look at the history of technology

A brief history of telephones

It’s hard to be surprised when people talk about the rapid growth of various sectors of the tech industry. It’s hard for me, anyway. That’s probably due to the fact that most of the crazy booms have been an integral part of my life – I was born after the “good old days,” when phones were tethered to the wall. The rate of innovation will always be interesting to me, even if I’ve missed some of it. To think about the difference between cell phones a decade ago and cell phones today is to see, in some small way, the crazy pace of development humanity has witnessed over the last half-century or so.

As is often the case, the BBC covers things best. Michael Blastland (awesome name) put together ‘A Brief History of Gadgets,’ complete with graphs like the one you see above. It’s definitely worth reading through, especially at a time of year when we’re wrapping and unwrapping some of the best technology our species has to offer. As Blastland says it, “For a while, the home phone will be part and parcel of many an internet connection. But will we, one day soon, watch the Christmas comedy repeats and, in a scene when the phone rings – Ha! It’s stuck to the wall by a wire. Hilarious! – wonder how those pre-mobile primitives managed?”