Facebook is working with Taiwanese cellphone maker HTC to build a smartphone, codenamed Buffy (after the television vampire slayer), that has the social network built into the device from the ground up. The phone is supposed to run on a modified version of Android which Facebook has heavily modified to deeply integrate its services and its mobile apps platform, according to sources familiar with the project cited by All Things Digital.
For its hardware partner, Facebook was debating between HTC and South Korea's Samsung, and only recently chose the former. The smartphone thus won't it to market anytime soon: its launch could be up to 18 months away.
Buffy has reportedly changed scope and leadership many times since its inception some two years ago. The project is currently led by Facebook CTO Bret Taylor.
Unsurprisingly, both Facebook and HTC have declined to comment on this story.
We've heard rumors of a Facebook phone for a long time now, but the company frequently says that its strategy does not have anything to do with building its own phone: instead, the company is happy helping everyone else leverage the social network on their platforms. Palo Alto's official stance on unofficial Facebook phones is that they are a prime example of a manufacturer using the company's public APIs to innovate in the mobile space.
The social networking giant won't let any mobile manufacturer market any of their devices as a "Facebook phone" but at the same time it quietly hopes more Facebook-integrated devices will be rolled out. This rumor suggests that Facebook wants to take a step further and finally release an official Facebook phone.