Would you buy a Facebook phone?

POSTED BY Global Administrator
With Google completing its (albeit brand-untouched) acquisition of Motorola, and three ‘Google phones’ to-date, you might have thought journalists were confusing the company with Facebook this week when rumours began spreading the airwaves of a Facebook phone. OK, it’s not exactly a new idea: HTC’s ChaCha has a Facebook-branded button; and there have been rumours like this before of a Facebook phone codenamed: ‘Buffy’. According to said reports, Facebook chiefs are worried over the lack of earning power on the mobile platform, and becoming ‘simply another app on other mobile platforms’. It’s tough enough in the smartphone space with Apple’s iPhones still selling back through the generations and Samsung churning out models at all levels of the market, so what’s left for Facebook to get its teeth into? Well, as we’ve said before, many big players (including Intel) are going after the mid-to-low end of the market in emerging markets. Facebook is undoubtedly a global brand, and if the company wants to push an ad-funded phone (given its current business model), this would undoubtedly be the space to do it in. Massive subsidies on even high-end smartphones in mature markets mean that consumers in North America, Western Europe and developed Asia aren’t going to be queuing up to buy one. So with Facebook rumoured to have recruited former Apple employees, it’s not a stretch to see the company ‘doing a Google’ and: (a) launching a branded phone; and possibly also (b) buying a mobile device manufacturer. HTC (with the Facebook-buttoned ChaCha) has been suggested as one potential candidate, as has RIM with its strength in messaging making it another option, while others say could it be Nokia. Which will it be, if any? We'll have to wait and see. What we do know is that there is going to be a substantial growth in economy smartphones (sub-$150)  over the next five years as these types of initiative (like Facebook's launch of a branded phone) are considered to drive adoption in emerging markets. Juniper’s report Smartphone Evolution Strategies: Premium, Standard and Economy Markets 2011-2016, forecasting the smartphone market by three discrete price bands is available here…