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Facebook Reportedly Has Hired Former Apple Engineers to Build a Smartphone

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The New York Times has an apparent scoop in regards to Facebook’s plans to release a smartphone in the future. The kicker? The social network has hired former Apple software and hardware engineers to make it happen:

Employees of Facebook and several engineers who have been sought out by recruiters there, as well as people briefed on Facebook’s plans, say the company hopes to release its own smartphone by next year. These people spoke only on the condition of anonymity for fear of jeopardizing their employment or relationships with Facebook.

The company has already hired more than half a dozen former Apple software and hardware engineers who worked on the iPhone, and one who worked on the iPad, the employees and those briefed on the plans said.

The former Apple engineers were questioned by Zuckerberg himself:

One engineer who formerly worked at Apple and worked on the iPhone said he had met with Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s chief executive, who then peppered him with questions about the inner workings of smartphones. It did not sound like idle intellectual curiosity, the engineer said; Mr. Zuckerberg asked about intricate details, including the types of chips used, he said. Another former Apple hardware engineer was recruited by a Facebook executive and was told about the company’s hardware explorations.

With Facebook now a public company, it would only make sense for them to release a smartphone to get some of the attention away from iOS and Android, which dominates the smartphone market. The question remains though, can Facebook jump into the smartphone market with no prior experience and be successful?

One possible scenario would be for Facebook to acquire an existing smartphone company for cheap, such as RIM and utilize their experience in churning out a next generation phone. But from what we’ve seen from RIM over the past few years…I wouldn’t bet on it.

[via New York Times]

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