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A Facebook Phone? Now?

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POKING THE HORNET NEST
DailyFeed

Two years ago, manufacturer Peek debuted a $100 handheld device with a single purpose. Rather than bog down a portable gadget with unnecessary function, Peek released a product which focused its entire use on one need: Twitter.

Never mind that, even in 2009, every single smartphone accessed and posted to Twitter via a multitude of handy apps. Ignore how TwitterPeek couldn't expand upon Twitter's inherent simplicity, something that could easily fit within one of many 3MB mobile apps. And pay no attention to the fact that the $100 device required a monthly fee of $7.95 after the first six months if the customer didn't pay $200 upfront for unlimited service.

But TwitterPeek's legacy, or lack thereof, should indicate how few people were interested in a product of such limited functionality. While there's nothing wrong with single-purpose devices, per se, they must outperform something that multi-functioning devices already do very well. Otherwise, what's the point?

And unless this here Facebook phone can offer a wondrous social networking experience beyond an iPhone, Android, BlackBerry, or Windows Phone app's wildest dreams, again, what's the point?

Following up a report back in February, AllThingsD claims Facebook has tapped Android manufacturer HTC to produce a smartphone with the social network deeply integrated into the OS. Dubbed "Buffy," the device will purportedly run a modified version of Android -- like the Kindle Fire -- while connecting to Facebook's social features via HTML5.

As a Facebook spokesperson told AllThingsD, the company is "working across the entire mobile industry; with operators, hardware manufacturers, OS providers, and application developers to bring powerful social experiences to more people around the world."

That's fine. But when Hewlett-Packard, Nokia, Research in Motion, and Microsoft can't seem to capture the versatility that iPhone and Android have in spades, what chance does a Facebook-focused device have? It's a wildly popular social network, sure, but I can't imagine many users flocking to a phone with a goal of making private messaging and status updates its main purpose.

I mean, we all remember what happened to the Microsoft Kin, right?

(See also: Galaxy Nexus Beats iPhone 4S in Speed Tests and Google Engineer Calls Google+ a Complete Failure)

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