Facebook working on new smartphone?

Interesting how the very week Google became a hardware maker with the closing of its acquisition of Motorola Mobility, there’s talk of another Internet giant doing the same.

The New York Time’s Nick Bilton reported recently, citing unnamed sources, that Facebook is hoping to release its own smartphone by next year.

Bilton’s sources include Facebook employees and several engineers who have been sought out by recruiters there, as well as people briefed on Facebook’s plans, he says. Those briefed on the plans told Bilton that the company has already hired more than six “former Apple software and hardware engineers who worked on the iPhone, and one who worked on the iPad.”

Of course, this builds on earlier reported attempts at a Facebook phone. In November, AllThingsD reported that Facebook had tapped HTC to build a smartphone that integrates the social network at its core in an effort code-named “Buffy”. DigiTimes later reiterated that report saying HTC was working in cooperation with Facebook on a phone that could be launched as early has the third quarter of 2012.

And TechCrunch first starting talking about efforts for a Facebook phone in fall 2010.

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