Facebook headhunts Apple engineers for 3rd smartphone attempt

By Lee Kaelin on May 28, 2012, 1:00 PM

According to the New York Times, citing multiple unnamed sources, Facebook has hired more than half a dozen former Apple engineers with experience working on the iPhone in order to create its own smartphone software and hardware in response to growing threats from the mobile web.

The social networking giant has tried this venture two times previously. The first attempt in 2010 was scrapped after the company realized the difficulties it would face in the transition from a software developer firm to a hardware manufacturer. Its second effort, which leaked late last year, is still under development with Taiwanese phone maker HTC. The project codenamed "Buffy" took over from the first failed attempt.

Now Facebook is making its third attempt to build a new smartphone for as early as next year. The company is reportedly delving "deeper into the process, by expanding the group working on Buffy, and exploring other smartphone projects too, creating a team of seasoned hardware engineers who have built the devices before."

In the company's recent IPO filing, the ever-increasing mobile web usage by consumers migrating from desktop and notebook computers to smartphones and tablets is listed as one of the firm's greatest threats to its business. The issue is highlighted further by financial reports revealing Facebook makes no real sizable income from mobile app users, which are now growing more rapidly than traditional website users.

"Mark [Zuckerberg] 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," an employee at Facebook said when speaking to the NY Times.

He is right to be concerned, however. Facebook's main advertising rival on the web is Google, and it's also arguably the leader in mobile OS searches as well, with a lucrative search deal with Apple for iOS using the Google search engine. That's without even considering the army of Google Android OS powered smartphones and tablets, also using Google search by default.

"We're working across the entire mobile industry; with operators, hardware manufacturers, OS providers, and application developers," the company said in a statement, adding that it doesn't comment on speculation or rumors.

User Comments: 18

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Guest said:

another fail in the making...

Guest said:

I don't think Apple is long for the tech world.


Guest said:

apple has been known for spying on people. even after they supposedly fixed their phones location tracking bug, it was still there. so apple lied basically. facebook is sued weekly and is know for abusing peoples' privacy to this day. I hope facebook is sued and loses everything and that this idea never goes through.

Guest said:

I believe Steve Jobs was one of those folks in the Bay Area who agreed to stop enticing engineers to exercise their right to look for s better job.

Go for it Facebook, I hope you win. /Larry

Guest said:

Yes, Facebook is just a website and will pass like other fads. No, they won't be able to build successful phone. Yes, you should dump the stock before it goes to zero and the computer does that automatic layoff-thing.

Guest said:

They will certainly outlive you, however.

Guest said:

So Anthony Fremont Jr. built one cute website for gossipy teenagers. They'll never compete with iOS. If you got sucked into the IPO farce, bail out now. Facecrook is this decade's AOL.

Guest said:

Well, let's see how that goes! Good luck with that one FB, I wonder if this is just a quickly pieced-together ploy to get the market interested in what obviously is a grossly overvalued stock.

Guest said:

Having banked a few billion with the IPO scam, Zuckerwhatever needs to have a real product. Copying the iPhone to create an fPhone prolly not a good notion.

Guest said:

Does Mark's new bride have a sister - me likee!

Guest said:

Another ignorant move by Luckerberg- and laughable as well.

Guest said:

Seriously, do you think if you say it loud enough and often enough that is will become real? It will take at least five years before anyone comes close. Everyone else is trying to catch up with where they're were four years ago. I don't really care one way or the other but if you had to put your life savings into a tech company, how could you argue not putting it into Apple. 100+ B in the bank, no debt, and has the fastest adopted tech device ever in the iPad.

I always put my money on the team on top and right now, they are on top.

Guest said:

Hey Sprint ... When they come knocking don't laugh them out the door. Remember how you felt when Apple had success with the iphone at AT&T after you said no. It was Apple's third phone attempt as well.

Guest said:

LOL, is this why Facebook went public to get extra cash to make a phone. Failure in the making. If I where an investor Id be watching carefully.

RH00D RH00D said:

Why do people want Facebook to fail miserably? Yeah, that's great. Let's wish that thousands of American's lose their job and the company they work for goes under, that way we can cause them and their family misery in hard financial times all the while destroying a communication service that is valuable to millions of people worldwide. Fantastic idea!

Guest said:

a facebook phone is laughable. facebook was not revolutionary, anyone remember myspace? facebook is a bit of clever software that will stay relevant just as that, nothing more, so long as people keep using it.

to propose that a deep bankroll alone can spawn game changing hardware technology such as the iphone did, is silly. How many other companies with HUGE capital have failed to capture the market as apple has? many. the facebook phone will fail because it will undoubtedly be as kitschy as facebook. it will be a contrivance for tweenagers and then fade to oblivion.

Guest said:

Patents, trade dress, and copyrights all arguably hamper innovation, but they will continue to exist for exactly the reasons that Facebook is demonstrating. FB is playing dirty pool and while companies like that exist, innovation will be wrapped up in legal protections and litigation.

Guest said:

Having "stolen" the Facebook idea from college mates by some credible accounts, Mark Zucker-Schmook is again trying to "steal" Apple's engineers so he "steal" yet another idea: namely the most successful phone in the history of mobile telephony.

See a pattern here? (Question) rhetorical)

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