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Facebook working on smartphone

Bloomberg News / September 24, 2010

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Facebook is working with a mobile-handset manufacturer, INQ Mobile, on two smartphones that may be carried by AT&T, three people familiar with the matter said.

The devices, which would feature Facebook’s social-networking services, are due in Europe in the first half of 2011 and in the United States in the second half, said one of the people, who asked not to be identified because the plans have not been made public.

AT&T, the second-largest US provider of wireless services, is still considering whether to carry the devices, another of the people said.

Facebook, the world’s most popular social network, is redoubling efforts to reach mobile users, many of whom access the site on smartphones. About a fourth of its more than 500 million users log on to Facebook from wireless devices.

The phones would also present fresh competition to Apple’s iPhone and Research In Motion’s BlackBerry.

“People are increasingly updating their status when they’re on the go,’’ said Augie Ray, an analyst at Forrester Research in San Francisco. “Facebook is a very popular application on every single smartphone in the country.’’

The new phones are slated to run Google’s Android operating system and would probably carry the AT&T brand in the United States, the people said. Facebook has not decided whether its name will be used on the devices, one person said.