It seems that Facebook has finally done it, the mythical Facebook Phone is here. Well, almost here, Facebook has invited the press to an event dubbed "Come See Our New Home on Android," to be held on April 4. This, TechCrunch reports, will be the unveiling of a heavily customized version of Android running on an HTC device.
Facebook has been dug deep into this version of Android, but it's not a complete transformation as with Amazon's devices, it seems.
The key will be that Facebook actions are built in at every level, similar to how the Facebook integration works on iOS, but probably much deeper.
Granted, Facebook can already be deeply integrated into a regular Android device, it can feed into the contacts, be present as a sharing option in almost any app, even replace the native messaging app. But something built by Facebook could go beyond than that.
Not a phone, but a launcher
Even more interesting than that, Facebook may actually be thinking beyond a single device. Zuckerberg has always stressed that focusing on one device or even one platform doesn't make sense if you want to reach one billion people and beyond.
The "Facebook Home " referred to in the invite, may be just that, a new Facebook Home, a new launcher for Android, to replace the default one, which would work on all Android devices out there.
A custom launcher would probably do most of what Facebook would need, it can completely replace the home screen, the app drawer, add custom actions and widgets and so on.
The big advantage of course is that it can reach far more people than any single device, especially one from HTC focused exclusively on Facebook.
As for why would Facebook want a custom phone or even a launcher, it's simple, control. Facebook would be able to control the basic apps, the phone app, contacts, messaging, even the browser, not to mention build an actual app store that completely bypasses the Play Store.
If it does choose to do that, it will have to get rid of all the Google apps as well, which is something Facebook would definitely like to be able to, but probably won't want to. The price for doing that is high, not even Apple can survive without the core Google apps.
The announcement is in a few days’ time, so we'll find out soon enough what Facebook has planned, a new launcher, a phone, both or neither.