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back to article Facebook ninjas scale wall, pluck iPhone techies from Apple's garden

Facebook has apparently hired in more than six iPhone and iPad engineers who could well be the social network's team for a Facebook smartphone, the The New York Times reports. Facebook privately cherry-picked the Apple employees rather than posting jobs openly, say the NYT's unnamed sources. Over six hardware and software …

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Facebook smartphone

Unless something radical's changed in the few weeks since I unfriended Facebook, they should start by making an app for existing smartphones that doesn't suck balls. Just my 2p.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Facebook smartphone

They know all too well that they can only make money from mobile by controlling the whole ecosystem.

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Re: Facebook smartphone

Mince. If they would suck it up and let Google/Apple handle ads in the Facebook app(s) and deal them a cut they could bring a new source of income online overnight. They WANT to control the whole ecosystem, sure, but not having ads in the FB app right now, even as a temporary measure while they roll out their own thing, is a bit of a fail.

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Re: Facebook smartphone

My WP7 pretty much seamlessly integrates Facebook.

It's the one thing about it I don't like. ;)

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Facepalm

Re: Facebook smartphone

I can live without a Facebook phone, heck, I live without Facebook.

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"Wind noise rejection filter"

Otherwise known as a cork?

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Anonymous Coward

Lawyers sharpen your pencils

Mobile devices are a patent minefield. The existing encumbents are hardly going to take this lying down unless for some stroke of good luck FB can buy their way into the 'I've got a zillion mobile patents cartel'.

On the otherhand, is this a sign of realism in the FB Ivory Tower that their business model is not upto spec?

Who knows but it is sure going to get interesting.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Lawyers sharpen your pencils

Their business model is sound on the browser and desktop machine. But people are using mobile more and browser less which creates a dilemma of how to serve up adverts without annoying mobile users.

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Facebook phone?

- Every conversation will start and end with an ad.

- All your "friends" will know when and who you are calling.

- Transcript of every conversation will be sold to advertisers, police and to your ex-gf (in exchange for her clicking on ads to prop up FB's share price).

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Thumb Up

In Soviet USA, Facebook socializes You!

All hinges on the definition of "social". In the FB world it means you share all your personal information with all and sundry, most importantly advertisers and authorities.

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Deeply

"We think every mobile device is better if it is deeply social"

Deeply Social? Deeply dippy more like.

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Holmes

Ummm...

"more than six...", "Over six..."

7?

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Angel

Re: Ummm...

Damn, you beat me to it.

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Anonymous Coward

This sounds like a waste of time and money on their behalf (along with the rumoured Opera acquisition)

I don't see the benefits of them having their own smartphone or their own browser. As someone points out their existing smartphone apps are terrible anyway and need a lot of work to be up to scratch.

I really can't see the USP in their own browser or smartphone? If they are aiming to put features in those products that aren't given to regular joes accessing on iPhones or Internet Explorer then that's the fast track to a shrinking userbase and before you know it they'll have half the users and they'll be the new Myspace

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Re: Opera

If such a buyout does materialise, it will be to get their hands on all the tracking/analytics info that Opera have. A lot of people use Opera Mini (especially on mobile) and FB would love to hoover that up too.

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IT Angle

I can't see the sense in this either.

Even if Facebook developed a completely new hardware line and made it very distinct, the patents held on handheld devices are vague and ambiguous to say the least. The big players in mobile tech really don't want another competitor and they have control of enough IP to ensure it's an uphill struggle the whole way.

But more importantly, I can't see the logical gain Facebook would make from entering the mobile market directly. They run a platform independent online service, they have no previous experience in direct mobile tech, their service is already available on the devices that would become their competitors.

Wouldn't it make more sense for them to throw their weight behind one of the giants like Google, since the potential link up for data mining users would offer them both huge advantages?

I don't approve of the idea personally, but from a business standpoint it would link up two companies who make a lot of money by profiling you and using targeting advertisements.

Surely if you linked google and facebook user data in profiling, you could capture 95% of a user's data available to be mined online. How many people use their PC/Laptop as a "facebook and emails" machine?

That's actually quite scary.

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Devil

with the cash they have

The only chance they have of getting something out this year is to buy Blackberry and use that as a starting point, they could easily get their stuff built into the OS and go from there.

Blackberry is a good fit as it gets the backing it needs to continue in business and facebook gets a brand with its own OS and bag of patents.

They should be able to do a deal that if the Zuck is involved with will be even more overpriced than instagram and MS buying Skype......

That would also take care of Google and Apple as far as pissing them of.....

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Re: with the cash they have

I doubt RIM would be the best option because they target business users who might not like all their data being sucked into facebook. Maybe the mobile business of LG or a more minor player would work though. It makes more sense than buying Instagram.

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Re: with the cash they have

Even with a tonne of cash, I'd be surprised if they got anything out by the end of the year. Way I see it, doing anything from scratch would be too difficult for them. That's a major task for even a company that does have the development experience in-house. Took Microsoft a long time to catch up with Apple and Google on this and MS have a Hell of a lot more development power than Facebook. So what are Facebook planning? Their own deployment of Android with a few tweaks? A fork of Android? Either way they're putting themselves in a head to head with Google that they cannot win. Is there anything else out there they could use? Can they licence Symbian or something? Even if they could, they don't have the expertise or business model to support sustaining it.

I don't see any good options for Facebook in this venture. All I can guess at is that they are taking a non-good option, e.g. copying Android. A road with many pitfalls in it. They must be worried.

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Coat

We have asked Apple for a comment.

Like you'll get one.

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Could always just put an ad at the end of everyones status

Kev

This pizza is f**cking horrible. Brought to you by Domino's

Ahhh... yeah slight flaw in that idea.

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Anonymous Coward

It's not just Apple

They are after all kinds of engineers with mobile experience. They contacted me last week but I'm not interested.

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FAIL

Two or three years too late

The time to do this would have been when Facebook had its maximum popularity amongst teens. A Facebook branded phone could have had some "cool" factor back then, but now Facebook is something their parents and maybe even grandparents use. That's about as uncool as it gets. That's why a lot of teens do most of their "social" on Twitter now. They still have Facebook accounts but don't use them the way teens were a couple years ago.

I don't think there was ever any way for Facebook to sell a phone to anyone over 20, unless it defied all logic and was actually a better phone than anyone else's phone. Good luck beating both Apple AND Samsung. Given how much doubt there is about the ability of RIM and Nokia to challenge those two, the idea that Facebook could do so is laughable.

I'm sure the marketing group at Facebook thinks this is a grand idea, they already have a lot of information on their userbase, as far as who their friends are, where they go (if they checkin), and sometimes even who they spend time in real life with (via photo tags) Now they could get information on where you are every minute of the day, everyone you call and text including how frequently and what time of the day, and if enough others had Facebook phones get an even better picture of who you spend time with in real life by seeing which ones are at the same location. Valuable information for marketers. Perhaps valuable enough to sell an iPhone/Galaxy class phone for "free" with subsidy? That's the only way I see the Facebook phone succeeding...

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Anonymous Coward

This makes no sense

If you were a decent phone engineer at Apple, WTF would you leave to join Facebook, what do they have to offer? so are FB just overpaying to get a bunch (more than 6) of mediocre engineers?

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Re: This makes no sense

moneyz, share options and many people grow tired of their working conditions looking for challenges.

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Anonymous Coward

Zuck

You're not Jobs.

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Headmaster

Shinob-no-mono

The plural of ninja is ninja :-p

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