More details have surfaced on smartphones that Facebook is rumored to be co-developing, with Bloomberg citing one of several sources in reporting that the pair of Android handsets may land on AT&T in the second half of 2011 — perhaps as early as July or August. TechCrunch broke the story this weekend — to much skepticism — alleging that former Mozilla developer Joe Hewitt and ex-Googler Matthew Papakipos were leading the project.
Bloomberg now has what it claims are a trio of sources confirming the devices’ existence, claiming that two INQ-built phones will be introduced intially: one straight-up touchscreen and another touchscreen/QWERTY combo. INQ Mobile is a London-based, Hong Kong-backed manufacturer which has already produced several European handsets with deep Facebook integration, and whose parent company’s CEO, Hutchison Whampoa Ltd.s Li Ka-Shing, is also reportedly a Facebook investor.
The article goes on the say that Europe will likely see these Android-powered handsets first, early next year, and that a deal with AT&T has yet to be finalized. It is also unclear whether or not the devices will actually sport the Facebook branding, although it is suspected that they will compete at the lower-end of the market. That’s a move that seems to make sense, as we can only really see these models appealing to a much younger, less-affluent crowd (and maybe, just maybe, our Dad).
Bonus: Best Twitter meme going around about this story? “If Facebook is building a phone, then Myspace is building a pager.” – Author unknown