Facebook denies plans to build its own phone

LOS ANGELES Sun Sep 19, 2010 5:53pm EDT

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Social networking website Facebook said on Sunday it is pushing deeper into the mobile phones sector, but denied an Internet report that it will build its own phone.

Privately held Facebook has more than 500 million users worldwide and the company already has applications on a number of mobile phones that tie into its social networking website.

But Jaime Schopflin, a spokesman for Facebook, said the privately held company "is not building a phone." Facebook's current projects include "deeper integrations with some manufacturers," he said.

"Our view is that almost all experiences would be better if they were social, so integrating deeply into existing platforms and operating systems is a good way to enable this," Schopflin said in a statement.

In a report on Sunday, the website TechCrunch.com said a source with knowledge of the project revealed that Facebook is secretly building software for a phone and working with a third party to build the hardware.

TechCrunch.com said Facebook wants to integrate deeply into the contacts list and core functions of a mobile phone, which it can only do if it controls the phone's operating system.

Facebook, for its part, cited Facebook Connect, a service to allow members to log onto third-party websites, for Apple Inc's iPhone, and contact syncing on its iPhone application as projects it has already undertaken.

In May, Facebook also launched a stripped-down version of its social networking website designed for mobile phones with limited bandwidth Internet connections.

"The bottom line is that whenever we work on a deep integration, people want to call it a 'Facebook Phone' because that's such an attractive soundbite, but building phones is just not what we do," Schopflin said.

Facebook's denial comes after Google Inc last year dismissed media reports about its plans to build a phone, and then later came out with the Nexus One.

At the time, the company said it was focusing on developing its Android mobile operating software, which works on a multitude of mobile phones developed by other companies such as Motorola Inc's hot-selling DROID device.

But Google eventually did release in January its own smartphone called the Nexus One, manufactured by Taiwan-based HTC Corp. Google sold the device itself through an online store, but in May announced it was closing that sales outlet and said the store had not lived up to expectations.

(Additional reporting by Alexei Oreskovic in San Francisco: Editing by Marguerita Choy)

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