Facebook 'Plans To Make New Smartphone'
Facebook has poached more than six former Apple employees as it plans to build its own smartphone, reports say.
The recently-listed social networking company could release a handset as early as next year, sources have told the New York Times.
Facebook employees and those briefed on the company's plans told the newspaper it had already hired more than half a dozen former Apple engineers.
Sources told the paper that the engineers had worked on the iPhone and iPad.
It would be Facebook's third attempt at building a smartphone, according to one of the paper's sources.
Facebook did not deny the reports and added: "Our mobile strategy is simple: we think every mobile device is better if it is deeply social.
"We're working across the entire mobile industry; with operators, hardware manufacturers, OS providers, and application developers to bring powerful social experiences to more people around the world."
In 2010 there were reports that Facebook was working on a handset, but the plans fell through because of unexpected difficulties.
And last year there were rumours that the company was working with Taiwanese smartphone manufacturer HTC to create a device with the codename 'Buffy'.
This team is now being expanded to include engineers that have built smartphones before, the report said.
One former Apple engineer told the paper he met with Facebook's chief executive, Mark Zuckerberg, who quizzed him on the inner workings of smartphones.
Facebook already has a hugely popular smartphone app which has more than 500 million active users a month.
But in order to use the app, it must be downloaded onto a mobile device.
"Mark is worried that if he doesn't create a mobile phone in the near future that Facebook will simply become an app on other mobile platforms," an employee told the paper.
The speculation that a smartphone could be on the horizon follows Facebook's controversial listing on the Nasdaq, when it was valued at over $100bn.
Since then, its shares have fallen from $38 to around $32.
Investors are likely to start calling on the company to create new sources of revenue - something that a mobile device could provide.
But the smartphone industry is already highly competitive.
Mobile stalwarts Nokia and Blackberry are struggling to keep up with market leaders Apple, which produces the iPhone, and Samsung, which has around a 30% share of the global smartphone market.