A Facebook phone: Why?

An Apple iPhone displaying the Facebook app's splash screen. The social network may be debuting its own phone soon.

Apple has one, so does Microsoft and Google. And there are rumors swirling that Facebook might be introducing a Facebook phone at its Menlo Park headquarters tomorrow.  

One reason the phone rumors seem believable is because Facebook wants to be your one-stop shop for everything. And the phone is the obvious way to do that, says Scott Steinberg, an analyst at Tech Savvy.

“What were rapidly seeing with companies is  there not simply looking to help you out with specific functions from time to time, but as your only port,” said Steinberg.

By one estimate, of the 1 billion people who are on Facebook, nearly 70 percent of them are active mobile users. With more people interacting with Facebook through mobile, the more Facebook is making the push, says Charles Golvin is an analyst at Forrester.

“That’s where most of the pictures and videos are being uploaded that’s where much of the communication happens,” Golvin said.

And that’s just the basic Facebook app -- you know, it looks like the one on your computer. Facebook has other apps that have fueled speculation that its going to bundle them all into a phone.

Rakesh Agrawal, a consultant at Redesign Mobile, says the social media giant is gaining ground with its Facebook Messenger app. It allows you to send instant messages over Wi-Fi and avoid racking up charges on your cell phone bill.

“And that’s increasingly becoming a threat to SMS where people are just using Facebook Messenger instead of paying their carriers $20-a-month or 20 cents a message,” said Agrawal.

And of course, we can’t forget Instagram, the hugely popular photo sharing app that Facebook acquired last year. But Agrawal says if the Facebook rumors are true the company might be getting into the business for the wrong reasons.

“A lot of companies build products because they feel the need to be in a certain space,” said Agrawal. “It’s possible that the Facebook phone ends up being the same thing that they feel the need to be there, but consumers don’t feel the need to buy it.”

About the author

Queena Kim covers technology for Marketplace. She lives in the Bay Area.

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