There are quite a few rumors flying around about Facebook and HTC teaming up to build a new “social” smartphone named “Buffy” with Facebook services deeply integrated in a modified version of Android.
Facebook has declined to comment on the rumors stating:
"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."
Apple and Microsoft have already announced a tight integration of Twitter in their mobile platforms. Google is building its own version of Facebook with Plus, which is bound to be deeply integrated in Android in the days to come and could be a serious threat to Facebook.
Mobile is on its way to become the biggest delivery platform and Facebook should control their own destiny instead of relying on Google’s Android and Apple’s iPhone, which have their own social agendas that’s bound to undermine Facebook in the long term.
Facebook could work on improving the following areas to create a mobile user experience tailored towards social activities:
Tight integration with the Phonebook
There is already an overlap between your Phonebook contacts and your Facebook friends, integrating Facebook contacts merges the two networks and they’re all there in a single place with their updates available at a glance.
Integration with Photo and Video Gallery
Facebook became the largest photo sharing site a while back, this just takes it a step further with easy access to your photos and videos locally on your phone along with all the contextual data like “comments” and “likes”.
Bring Facebook’s Apps to the Mobile Space
An increasing number of people are spending more time using mobile apps compared to the web, a Facebook phone can give the flourishing Facebook app ecosystem a jumpstart on the mobile space. It can also provide better access to native phone features such as alarm, scheduler and so on, to create richer thrid-party apps to improve the user’s lifestyle.
Integration with Mobile Payment Gateway
This can do for Facebook app developers what iTunes did for mobile app developers. An amazing way to reach the mobile consumer and monetise their hard work and open up a whole new world of socially inclined apps for the users.
Gather Contextual Data
Now this is a goldmine that Google’s been exploiting for a long time, imagine the power to gather contextual data from usage habits of users not just while they are using your app but while they go about living their lives (only after the user opts-in, of course). This gives a huge potential to better position their offerings which complement each user’s unique lifestyle.
Targeted Content Delivery
Content consumption on the mobile is growing by leaps and bounds. With tight integration, the phone can identify your interests based on your mails, shares, browser history, tweets, location and so on, and aggregate the articles you’ll be most interested in automatically.
Integration of their new Features like Jobs and Answers
It’s an easier way to reach out and educate the users about new features.
These are just a minuscule number of things that can be leveraged by Facebook. I’m sure there are hundreds of other tweaks that will help Facebook provide a better social experience but won’t be allowed by phone platforms because of their vested interests.
As Facebook’s CTO puts it, “Mobile devices are inherently social”, with deep integration in the mobile interface, a Facebook phone can create a mobile user experience tailored towards friends and social activities.