Facebook boss Mark Zuckerberg answers mobile rumours

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Facebook on phone
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Facebook will help phone manufacturers achieve "deep integration" of its services

Facebook boss Mark Zuckerberg has responded to rumours that the company is planning to launch its own mobile phone.

He told delegates at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona to expect multiple devices built around the social network.

However, he appeared to dismiss the idea of a Facebook-branded handset.

It had been speculated that the company was working with a major manufacturer, as Google did on its Nexus phones.

"A lot has been made about a single Facebook phone," said Mr Zuckerberg.

"But this year, you can expect to see dozens of phones with much deeper social integration than we have so far."

He was referring to the Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) provided by Facebook that allow phone manufacturers to build social networking into their operating systems.

Pushing a software solution, rather than getting into the hardware business is the right approach for Facebook, according to Gareth Beavis, mobile editor at Techradar.com.

"It gives operators and brands the opportunity to shape the system as they see fit," he said.

Mr Beavis said he thought that Facebook integration would prove a strong selling point for cheaper smartphones, which lack the sophisticated features of higher-end devices.

Social devices

Facebook plans to continue extending its presence within the mobile world.

"Phones are inherently social devices and the industry is just beginning to discover what's possible," said Mr Zuckerberg.

According to figures from comScore, 30.8% of users accessing social networking did so from smartphones in January 2011.

For owners of lower-end non-smartphones the figure was just 6.8%.

Moves are being made to bring the social networking experience to those more basic handsets.

Also at Mobile World Congress, Dutch security firm Gemalto launched a Facebook Sim card, designed to work in any GSM phone.

The enhanced chip brings basic features such as status updating and Facebook messaging.

It works by translating social networking updates into 160-character text messages.

The system does not require a mobile internet connection and could help extend access across the developing world.

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