ADOTAS – Over the weekend, Michael Arrington at TechCrunch got the rumor mill rolling by posting that Facebook was developing a smartphone, something the mammoth social network immediately denied. CEO Mark Zuckerberg reached out to Arrington yesterday to awkwardly explain that no, the company isn’t developing a mobile OS and it has no plans to compete with Apple and Google on that front.
However, Facebook is attempting to build something more sophisticated than a native mobile app that will easily integrate into an OS and makes an entire smartphone social.
Like most times when I read or watch Zuck, his inability to be straightforward makes me want to beat my head against the monitor. Fortunately, Arrington realizes yes/no questions are the only way to deal with the rambling prodigy and simply asks “So, are you working on a ground-up operating system for mobile phones today?”
Zuck says no. Instead it sounds like Facebook is working on a customized version of Android with the goal of eliminating social friction between apps, something along the lines of a deeply integrated Facebook Connect. Zuck notes that Facebook’s iPhone and Android app have contact syncing, but the company seems to be developing something that would go beyond a native app and truly sync into the OS.
“We can do a single sign-on if we do a good integration with a phone, rather than just doing something where you go to an app and it’s automatically social or having to sign into each app individually,” he says.
Facebook wants to make everything on your smartphone social, which probably sounds quite appealing to advertisers — more socialization equals more opportunities for engagement. But do users want everything integrated on the most personal of devices?
I’ll wager that many smartphone users are willing to sign into each app individually because it gives them a sense of control, a feeling they are managing their data. The question is whether that need for control — and the fear of ceding it to a company like Facebook — outweighs the lure of instant accessibility.