HTC launching two Facebook phones next month?

HTC launching two Facebook phones next month?

Well, well. There has never been a Facebook-branded phone. FB boss Mark Zuckerberg has said there are no plans to develop one. So that's obviously why we're reading that two are about to be announced.

If you believe the rumours – and we don't know if we should – Taiwan's smartest smartphone maker HTC has put its name down next to Facebook's in a deal to bring the Facebook-branded duo to the world at next month's Mobile World Congress.

The source of the story – free newspaper City AM – claims the two handsets will be “high-end smartphones” and will officially be “the first to bear the Facebook branding and colours”. Android will be the operating system chosen for the job, but Google's OS will be tweaked to keep the Facebook goodness bubbling at the surface at all times. For example, you'll be able to call or email straight from a contact's Facebook page.

City AM's unnamed sources say Joe Hewitt, who helped develop Firefox, and Matthew Papakipos, one of the Google Chrome browser team, are heavily involved in the project.

Now we can't claim to know just how reliable City AM's sources are, but there's certainly room for doubt here.

Lest we forget, 3-owned mobile maker INQ Mobile launched the INQ1 back in 2008, which was quickly dubbed the “Facebook phone” for its deep integration of social networking features. A couple of INQ phones since have boasted similar features, and the forthcoming INQ Cloud Touch is described by INQ itself as having “Facebook built into its core. The homescreen features multiple entry points to different Facebook functions, while a dynamic widget displays a feed of status updates, albums, videos and photos.”

Sounds pretty much what City AM is describing, and it would be surprising if HTC had signed any kind of exclusive deal knowing a Facebook phone in all but name is coming up from another company. Not impossible, certainly, but surprising.

To quote Mark Zuckerberg from November: “There’s been this rumour that Facebook is going to build a smartphone. What a novel idea, but no.” Things change, of course, but then again sometimes they don't. We'll be following this one with considerable interest...

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