Facebook could release its own smartphone next year, with the digital business reportedly hiring a team of ex-Apple staff to work on the project.
The company has looked at selling its own device during the past few years, with its rumoured team-up with HTC, codenamed 'Buffy', still in the works. According to The New York Times, Facebook has hired more than six former Apple software and hardware engineers who worked on the iPhone, and one who worked on the iPad, to lead the new project. The phone could hit the market as soon as 2013.
A spokesperson for Facebook did not confirm or deny the rumours, saying: 'We’re working across the entire mobile industry; with operators, hardware manufacturers, OS providers, and application developers.'
There are no job listings for the project on Facebook's website, with the company opting instead to approach potential employees directly. One who has been interviewed by Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said he was quizzed about the inner workings of smartphones and types of chips used.
As a newly listed public company, the report said it was critical Facebook sought new sources of revenue, with mobile identified as a promising area for growth. A Facebook employee said: 'Mark is worried that if he doesn’t create a mobile phone in the near future that Facebook will simply become an app on other mobile platforms.'
Editor: Graeme Neill