Facebook fesses up – social network launches phone with HTC

Steve Dinneen
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HTC, the Taiwanese mobile phone giant, yesterday unveiled two Facebook-branded phones, as first revealed in City A.M. last month.

Dan Rose, head of business development at the social network, had denied our story, telling a press conference the following day there were no branded handsets in the pipeline.

However, the two new devices – which made their debut at the Mobile World Conference in Barcelona yesterday – are both clearly branded with Facebook’s famous “F” logo.

The ChaCha and Salsa (pictured right) also have a discreet Facebook button and software that integrates the phone with the social network site.

Both devices will use data from Facebook, such as status updates, and apply it to the phone’s contacts and incoming calls. The phones will run the latest version of Google’s Android operating system.

Henri Moissinac, Facebook’s head of mobile business, yesterday revealed the two companies had been working on the handsets together “for several years”, even though the firm initially scotched our report.

Yesterday, a source close to Facebook defended the firm’s denial, insisting Rose’s comments were taken out of context.

The source said: “I think this still comes down to the definition of what was meant by ‘Facebook branded’ – Dan was indicating that the phone was not part of the Facebook brand.”

Yet the ChaCha and Salsa are the first ever handsets to display the famous Facebook “F” logo on their casing.

Facebook yesterday said customers could expect to see “dozens” of similar phones from a range of manufacturers this year, as the social network targets mobile users.

Mobile is an increasingly important driver of traffic to Facebook, which says 250m users a month access the social network on mobile devices.

HTC also makes the Google Nexus S, the Google-branded phone that was also first revealed in City A.M. in October last year.