Facebook is reportedly working with HTC on an official handset, codenamed Buffy, which will be unveiled within the next 18 months.
According to the AllThingsD blog, the handset will run on Android and will be the first official handset. Previous HTC models, the Salsa and ChaCha, have used a dedicated Facebook button for access to the social network.
The social network has previously denied that it is working on a phone but has never ruled out using a third party to manufacture a device that has Facebook built-in at every level.
Facebook chief technology officer Bret Taylor is said to be leading the project, which will build on the previous ‘Facebook phones’. Facebook currently has more than 350 million active mobile users and is among the most supported app in app stores for all operating systems.
A recent comScore study showed that the audience for mobile social networking in the EU5 region grew 44% in the last year with 55.1 million mobile users in the EU5 accessing social networking sites or blogs via their mobile devices during September 2011.
In a blog statement the company 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.’
AllThingsD reports that the phone could be 18 months away, and that Samsung, which has just released Google’s flagship model, the Galaxy Nexus, was also considered.