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A Facebook phone could be in the works, serving as the company's latest bold attempt to increase revenue and make money from its one billion users.
The social media giant sent out invites last week to a press event, "Come See Our Home on Android." Facebook Inc. (Nasdaq: FB) will host the event at its Menlo Park, CA headquarters Thursday.
Rumors state the mobile device will use customized software that's a version of Google Inc.'s (Nasdaq: GOOG) Android 4.2 OS. The software will dominate a user's home screen. Updates and information from a user's Facebook account will be posted constantly.
Industry insiders believe the company is working on the smartphone in collaboration with Taiwan's HTC. This is the second time the companies have collaborated on a Facebook-focused phone – with the first attempt only lasting a few months.
Could it be that second time's the charm?
Why a Facebook Phone?
Facebook is the most downloaded app on smartphones, so a Facebook-focused phone seems a likely move from the social networker. Some 680 million of Facebook's more than one billion users access their accounts via mobile.
"It could drive more frequent access of Facebook and ultimately, more time spent on Facebook and more advertising revenue," Robert W. Baird & Co. analyst Colin Sebastian told The Wall Street Journal.
The social network giant has actively added new features aimed at keeping members coming back to the site more often and staying there longer in attempts to boost advertising revenue. Q4 mobile ads accounted for 23% of Facebook's ad revenue.
The phone will reportedly look similar to the black iPhone, with a slightly larger 4.3-inch screen. The rumored features include a modest 5 mega-pixel back camera, 1.6 mega-pixel front camera for video calling, and 15 gigabytes of storage. Despite all the rumors, a price hasn't been leaked.
But the main question is, will consumers really buy a Facebook phone if they can just access the app on the phone they already own?