The fPhone is finally here. Facebook is launching its own brand of phones that put social networking front and center. With an estimated 650 million mobile users it was inevitable that Facebook would introduce mobile devices that integrate users more tightly with the site, allowing for faster posting, chatting, and commenting. They might even allow for voice calls (remember those?).
Facebook’s foray into mobile phones is a direct response to Samsung’s plans to develop a social network. Slated to launch this year, it is designed to rival Facebook. The project is codenamed Samsung Facebook (Brilliant! Who could possibly guess what that’s about?). The thinking behind the fPhone and Samsung’s network (I believe the official name will be Twitter Plus) is to control both content and the mechanisms through which it is created. Samsung dominates the mobile phone market and makes nearly a third of all smartphones sold worldwide — more than double what Apple does. All those smartphones are the source of huge amounts of content, which becomes the property of Facebook, Google, etc. This means that most advertising based on that content doesn’t accrue to Samsung. But the combination of mobile phones and a social network is a direct threat to Facebook’s business model.