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Facebook phone tagged for 2013 release

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The Facebook hardware rumour mill is in full spin again this week after reports suggest the social network is preparing its own smartphone for 2013.

While there have already been numerous whispers that the company is planning to jointly develop handsets with HTC, the latest word on the matter suggests Facebook will go it alone.

Employees, recruited engineers and other people close to the company have all expressed knowledge on Facebook's smartphone plans, the New York Times reports.

The firm has even recruited a handful of former Apple software and hardware engineers, including a number of folk who worked on the iPhone and one who had his hand in the iPad's development.

“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,” said one anonymous Facebook employee.

HTC ChaCha

Dedicated button? How about a dedicated handset?

It is suggested that this is third time lucky for Facebook, which failed to build a smartphone on two previous occasions. The pieces have been coming together slowly, though.

Facebook already has an OS complete with messaging, calendar, contacts and video-chat tools; it already has an app store in the works; and it now has Instagram, the photo sharing tool it valued at $1bn.

The firm's motivation is clear. Since it floated stock last week, Facebook shares have been falling and new sources of revenue are a must. If the company wasn't already building a handset, surely it would have spent that billion on snapping up a mobile manufacturer instead?

While that could still be an option, it appears Zuckerberg and co. are creating their own from scratch, or at least having a good poke at it. ®

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