Official invitation hints at a Facebook phone

Facebook has sent out invitations to an event on April 4, where the company promised to unveil its 'new home on Android.' 

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg takes the stage for a media event at Facebook headquarters in Menlo Park, Calif., in early March. Facebook has scheduled another major event for April, where many analysts believe the company will unveil a Facebook-branded phone.

Before we talk about the latest Facebook phone rumors – and yes, there are a bunch – it may be worth discussing why Facebook rumors are so persistent.

Reason one: Facebook is now a public company, with obligations to its investors. Those investors want Facebook to make a lot of money. And right now, the best place for Facebook to make a lot of money is in the field of mobile advertising.

As the Guardian noted back in January, the mobile trends are already moving in the right direction for Facebook – revenue from mobile advertising has doubled and more people access the platform from phones or tablets than they do Web browsers. But a Facebook phone, assuming it was popular, would help keep users even more plugged into the Facebook eco-system. There might be a specially-designated Facebook button, for instance, for instant posting. 

Or more prominent placement for Facebook apps such as Messenger or Instagram

Reason two: We all love a good horse race. Right now, the smart-phone market is pretty much dominated by the Apple iPhone 5 and the Samsung Galaxy line. Facebook is the rare company that has the might to influence the race.

But back to those Facebook phone rumors. Yesterday, Facebook sent out an invitation to an event on April 4, at its Menlo Park HQ. "Come See Our New Home on Android," the invitation reads. Which certainly could point to an Android-powered Facebook phone. 

In fact, earlier this month, a tech site known as Unwired Review reported that HTC and Facebook are collaborating on a device known as the Myst (not to be confused with the popular computer game of the same name). The phone was said to be equipped with the Android 4.1.2 Jelly Bean operating system and a 4.3-inch high-res display. 

Over at TechCrunch, Josh Constine quotes a source as saying that Facebook would unveil "an altered Android OS running on HTC."

He continues:

It’s said not to be a full-on rewrite of Android, but rather a “flavor” that will have all sorts of extra Facebook functionality built in. We’ve also heard it referred to as an “application layer”. Imagine Facebook’s integration with iOS 6, but on steroids, and built by Facebook itself. It could have a heavy reliance on Facebook’s native apps like Messenger, easy social sharing from anywhere on the phone, and more.

Maybe. Of course, the event might not highlight a phone at all – it might, notes Eric Zeman of Information Week, merely revolve around a "more tightly integrated" Android and Facebook interface. 

For more tech news, follow us on Twitter @venturenaut.

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