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Zuckerberg: Facebook phone 'wouldn't make sense'

Doug Gross, CNN
Speculation continues despite Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg's comments downplaying rumors about a smartphone.
Speculation continues despite Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg's comments downplaying rumors about a smartphone.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Reports for years have speculated about Facebook making a smartphone
  • But Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg says such a move "wouldn't make sense"
  • Comments came during Facebook's earnings report this week
  • Zuckerberg says mobile is an emerging area of growth

(CNN) -- So, about all those experts and analysts who've spent the past year or so saying Facebook was going to make a phone. A new expert has stepped forward to say it's not going to happen.

And his name is Mark Zuckerberg.

Facebook's CEO on Thursday threw cold water on rumors that have simmered for months the networking giant has been working on its own smartphone.

"There are lots of things that you can build in other operating systems, as well, that aren't really like building out a whole phone, which I think wouldn't really make much sense for us to do," Zuckerberg said in response to a question about the phone during the site's first earnings report.

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His comments seem to fly in the face of the scuttlebutt that's made its way onto blogs and news sites across the Web (including this one) for some time now.

As recently as two months ago, The New York Times was reporting that "employees of Facebook and several engineers" as well as (the, of course, anonymous) "people briefed on Facebook's plans" were saying the company hoped to release a phone by next year.

These unnamed folks told the Times it was Facebook's third effort at phone-building, dating back to 2010.

And The Wall Street Journal's All Things D blog sounded pretty sure of itself last year, letting us know the Facebook phone is real, the site was working with HTC to make it and that its code name was "Buffy," after the noted vampire slayer.

Alas.

On the earnings call, Zuckerberg emphasized that mobile computing is key to the company's future strategy. So far, despite earning millions, Facebook does not sell ads on, or charge for, its mobile app. Increasingly, smartphones and tablets are becoming the most frequent way people access social media.

"Well, Facebook is the most used app on basically every mobile platform, right?" Zuckerberg said. "So when we think about what we want to do right now, we want to increase the depth of the experience in addition to just growing users. We want to not just have apps that people use but also be kind of deeply integrated into the systems as possible. We want to support a development ecosystem, where other apps can build on top of Facebook."

So what will Facebook's next move in mobile be? Stay tuned, Zuckerberg says.

"I think we're really much closer to the beginning here than the end in terms of what we can do," he said. "If you use the apps today, they're relatively basic compared to what I think anyone can imagine they would want from their Facebook experience on a phone."

So that settles it, right? Not so fast. In the tech blogosphere, it's hard to keep a good rumor down.

All Things D responded to the report with a post titled "Why Facebook Might Really Be Doing Its Own Phone, Despite What Zuck Said."

The logic? Nobody ever said Facebook itself is building the phone. An existing phone maker would build it for the site.

"His comments still leave tons of room for the company to be doing most of the work on a phone, while working alongside one or many partner manufacturers to do the actual hardware," Mike Isaac wrote. "Even Apple could arguably say it doesn't manufacture phones -- Foxconn builds the phones -- and Apple is the most profitable phone maker in the world."

So there you have it. Let the speculation resume.

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