You won’t ‘like’ the Facebook phone

Poor design and superfluous features make the new gadget undesirable.

by Julian Switala

I have a confession to make: I was a Facebook addict. I wasted hundreds of hours, deteriorated my eyesight and lost my dignity. I was still able to maintain friendships âÄî extremely well, in fact.

I wasnâÄôt the subject of an intervention, but I did personally divorce Facebook by disabling my account for an entire month. After this respite, my dependence waned and eventually subsided.

My currently manageable moderation of Facebook indulgence is now being threatened. Soon Facebook will be appearing in a seemingly new and potentially more intrusive medium: its own mobile device.

For several months, rumors have been flying around the Internet about a Facebook phone coming to market.

These musings are no longer speculation. INQ, a mobile phone manufacturer based in London, issued a press release just last week where it unveiled two new Android devices, the INQ Cloud Touch and the INQ Cloud Q.

While INQ will release the Cloud Touch in April in the U.K., it is still negotiating with carriers in regards to a U.S. release.

The phones provide nearly everything Facebook does on your laptop: news feed, status updates, photos, video and more.

In addition to these features, Facebook is fully integrated throughout the entire phone. This means that users need only to sign in once and will then have access to all of the other apps designed on the Facebook platform.

Your Facebook events, such as your friendsâÄô birthdays, will be instantly updated in Google Calendar, and to call someone youâÄôll no longer need to remember an antiquated ten digit code, just your friendâÄôs name.

You may be asking yourself, âÄúWait âĦ how is this any different from having a smart phone with the Facebook app?âÄù Good question âÄî and neither INQ nor Facebook have provided an answer besides increased Facebook integration.

Of course, I havenâÄôt personally had the privilege of playing with a working prototype. Regardless, the main question to ask is, âÄúWhatâÄôs the point?âÄù It isnâÄôt necessary nor even close to ideal to have only one social network service possess monopolistic authority over everything that you can and canâÄôt do on your phone.

With these red flags, the target market is definitely not comprised of technophiles.

As INQ stated in their press release, these phones are built for âÄúpeople worldwide who use Facebook as their primary means of communication.âÄù In other words, Facebook junkies.

Add the fact that the phone may cost $50 with a contract, and it appears to be targeted directly to teenage addicts.

Now donâÄôt get me wrong âÄî being able to effortlessly stay in touch with friends and relatives scattered around the U.S. and abroad is fantastic. However, the bombardment of meaningless status updates, links to outdated viral videos and trolls can certainly take its toll on oneâÄôs sanity.

Interestingly, Mark Zuckerberg, CEO and founder of Facebook Inc., has stated that FacebookâÄôs philosophy toward the mobile realm is âÄúnot trying to compete with Apple or the Droid or any other hardware manufacturer.âÄù An understandable statement given that INQ doesnâÄôt offer much in comparison to other well-established mobile enterprises.

Ultimately, this product represents further evidence for fear-mongers and luddites that Facebook will eventually take over the world. But conspiracy theories aside, I know that this mobile device wonâÄôt have me relapsing anytime soon.


Julian Switala welcomes comments at [email protected]