Recently, the French telecom company, Orange, announced it would be partnering with Facebook to create an innovative “social calling” application known as “Party Call.” As indicated by various sources, the service will give users the luxury of making calls without needing the recipients’ phone numbers, and will appear on both the mobile and desktop versions of Facebook. The carrier’s other unique online calling and messaging tool, known as Libon (“Life is better on”), will also make its way into Facebook’s ecosystem at some point, according to the folks from TechCrunch.
Having already made the effort to introduce “skype” into its system (in the form of video calling), Facebook’s addition of Orange’s social calling app ultimately reinforces its goal of expanding into –as well as integrating– the social and mobile realms. And without question, this brings us back to a persistent, ongoing rumor, one which concerns the state of the much debated “Facebook”-centric phone. Seeing that “Party Call” has been designed for various types of mobile platforms in mind (the iOS and Android systems included), one argument is that we may not actually see an authentic “Facebook” phone per se, as many rumors suggest. With practically all smartphones capable of connecting to the social network, It is suggested that with advanced functions such as those provided by Orange, any existing or future smartphone is in essence a potential “Facebook phone.” In a way, this falls largely in line with Mark Zuckerberg’s personal vision of his social network, perceived as more of a mega social ecosystem than a straight-up, mere service/hardware provider.
On the other side of the spectrum, TechCrunch and Slashgear maintain that, despite uncertainties, the prospects of an eventual Facebook-branded phone should not be ruled out completely. Techcrunch, in particular, made a point of Orange and Facebook’s intimate relationship with one another, stating how the former had been hinting at many future, undisclosed projects with the social network. Adding to this claim, of course, are the recent reports concerning HTC’s mysterious “OperaUL,” which many believe to be the actual Facebook handset. If in fact in development, the potential Facebook phone may end up utilizing an existing or advanced variety of Orange’s social call app, or perhaps something revolutionary that has yet to be disclosed. Whatever the case, even in the absence of confirmations, there’s no harm anticipating what the potential handset from the world’s largest social network may look like.
Orange’s “Party Call” service is due for a launch in the summer of 2013 (beginning with France). It will be interesting to see whether this will be the period when the much rumored Facebook phone will finally be announced.