Users have been bombarded with ‘Facebook’ phones this year. Most of them, with the Vodafone 555 blue as a prime example, were pretty standard devices barring a couple of tweaks which gave users a direct path to the social network. AllThingsDigital now claims that Facebook itself is looking to make a mobile phone. Codenamed ‘Buffy’ (after the vampire slayer played by Sarah Michelle Geller), the project is reportedly a collaboration between the social networking giant and Taiwanese manufacturer, HTC.
According to AllThingsD, the phone is planned to run on a version of Android heavily tweaked by Facebook for better integration of its services. The phone is also reported to use HTML5 as a platform for its apps, say sources familiar with the project.
Facebook only settled the deal with HTC very recently, says AllThingsD, after “also considering at least one other potential hardware partner — Korea’s Samsung”.
This means that the project is in the early stages of development and an actual product may still be some way off.
Facebook has reportedly been working out precisely what Buffy would entail for nearly two years now. In this period, the project has changed scope and direction several times, with sources saying the project is now being run by Facebook’s Chief Technical Officer, Brett Taylor.
Speaking to AllThingsD, a Facebook spokesperson said:
“Our mobile strategy is simple: We think every mobile device is better if it is deeply social. We’re working across the entire mobile industry; with operators, hardware manufacturers, OS providers, and application developers to bring powerful social experiences to more people around the world.”
AllFacebook delves deeper into codename Buffy. The team who worked on the phone were led by
Chamath Palihapitiya, CEO of Social+Capital Partnership as well as Joe Hewitt, Firefox founder. The project was kept a secret from Facebook employees for months until it became a development nightmare and as costs began to soar, team leaders fled the “train wreck”.
The original name of the project was ‘Slayer’ but was renamed to the friendlier Buffy. Slayer was shorthand for Social Layer. Buffy production was kicked into higher gear under pressure from Google’s rapid domination of the smartphone market with its successful Android OS, together with its recent somewhat successful forays into social networking. But if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em, all that has been revealed in terms of specifications is that Facebook’s Buffy will rock a “heavily modified” Android OS.
[Ed’s Note: There is only one Buffy – Kristy Swanson in the original movie]