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May 31, 2012

Slate: Facebook smartphone? Dumb idea

(Continued)

But that strategy also makes little sense. For one thing, Facebook is already deeply integrated into most smartphones. Facebook's apps — the main social networking app, as well as its add-on apps for messaging and its new Camera app for photos — are some of the most popular add-ons on the iPhone and Android. Many Android phones also allow you to hook in your phone more directly, for instance by syncing your address book with the social network. And because it relies on advertising revenue, Facebook can't afford to offer preferential treatment to its own phone over other phones — it's got to work really well everywhere, because Facebook only makes money if everyone uses it. Consequently, it's hard to see how the Facebook phone can ever hope to be better at Facebook, supposedly its main function, than any other phone.

So what would be the point in using the Facebook phone? Well, remember, it will be cheap. But so are lots of Android phones. If Facebook makes a phone, then, the device will necessarily spark a battle for the low end of the phone market, with each company offering ever-cheaper devices in the hopes of cashing in on some future advertising bonanza. If you're looking for a cheap, ad-heavy phone based on a dubious business model, you should rejoice. Otherwise, try to stifle your yawns.

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Manjoo covers technology for Slate.

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