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It seems as if there's some truth behind the Facebook Phone rumor after all.
Even though Facebook initially denied the gadgetry allegations that were originally reported by TechCrunch -- and later independently corroborated by CNET and Business Insider -- details continue to get a little more concrete.
Bloomberg is naming names.
The news agency reported yesterday that a pair of Facebook-centric phones are being made by Hutchison Whampoa (OTC BB: HUWHY.PK) backed INQ Mobile. It will be introduced overseas early next year, with a stateside push through AT&T (NYSE: T ) coming in the latter half of the year.
Even though the phones will be based on the same Google (Nasdaq: GOOG ) Android platform that can be found everywhere these days, the social networking angle should help AT&T stand out -- especially if it loses iPhone exclusivity next year.
This is obviously a crowded market, with Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL ) , Android, and Research In Motion (Nasdaq: RIMM ) duking it out. Nokia's (NYSE: NOK ) eventually going to make a dent in the stateside market. Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT ) should roll out its new smartphone operating system next month. It's also highly unlikely that Hewlett-Packard (NYSE: HPQ ) spent so much on Palm, only to snuff it out.
More players mean thinner slices, so why not a Facebook Phone? The quick death of Microsoft's Kin notwithstanding, there could very well be a market for a niche device that matches the browsing habits of heavy Facebook users.
However, in this fickle space where social network pioneers have only had a couple of years at the top before something else comes around, a stateside release that's a year away is no slam dunk.
So much can change between now and then. Sure, Facebook may be up to 700 million or 800 million registered users at the time, but never underestimate the power of a better mousetrap -- or smartphone.
Does Facebook have everlasting power? Share your thoughts in the comment box below?