While a potential Facebook smartphone was ridiculed by analysts, one Paris-based marketing expert predicted a "FacePhone" will happen in 18 months, and the social networking giant will buy Nokia for $10 billion to make it happen.
The existing hardware-operating system partnership between Nokia and Microsoft will also play into Facebook's plans for a smartphone, which mean the device would use the Windows Phone operating system, said Paul Amsellem, managing director of Mobile Network Group, a mobile marketing company.
"Facebook will launch the FacePhone and whether it has a blue color and a logo with a big "f" on it, it will definitely be disruptive," Amsellem said in a telephone interview. "Even at this moment, Facebook doesn't know what it will look like, but they need to do it."
Amsellem said Facebook, flush with cash from its recent IPO, could purchase Nokia for $10 billion, even though Nokia is valued at around $15 billion, with its stock price declining in recent weeks. Nokia is already producing Windows Phone models, although they http://www.computerworld.com/s/article/9227287/Update_Facebook_IPO_stumbles_out_of_the_gate
Microsoft already has ties to Facebook through a stock investment Microsoft made in Facebook in 2007 and collaboration by the two on Internet search to boost Microsoft's Bing search engine. The combination of all three companies could be powerful, he said.
If Facebook doesn't buy Nokia, it could buy BlackBerry maker Research In Motion, for less than $6 billion, to get access to BlackBerry Messenger compression software, Amsellem said. A primary reason to buy either Nokia or RIM would be access to their radio technology savvy and their connections to hundreds of wireless carriers globally -- areas where Facebook is notably weak.
"Facebook needs somebody with an understanding of networking, technology, carrier relationships and logistics," he said. "They can acquire one of these two players for not a lot of money."
But Amsellem said Facebook desperately needs to "do something in mobile" to find a new technology sector where it can grow aside from its popular social networking software. Facebook has 900 million active users each month, with more than 500 million accessing Facebook from smartphones and tablets.
Facebook admitted in its IPO filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission that users' shifting from desktop and laptop computers to mobile devices were hurting its ability to sell advertisements, which aren't as predominant on the mobile platforms.
Rather than produce a "Buffy" code-named smartphone based on Android next year, as reported last November, Amsellem said Facebook has more time to bring a smartphone to market and to develop a strategy with Microsoft and Nokia. The New York Times recently reported that HTC is working with Facebook on a smartphone, even though they had previously worked together on a phone, called the ChaCha in the U.S. and Salsa elsewhere, that flopped.
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