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Guess the Phone: Putting Your Social Life First

by Brandon Russell | December 21, 2013December 21, 2013 12:00 pm PST

Why was this phone given the green light, and how many people actually purchased it when it launched? During the height of iPhone popularity, executives consciously decided that a QWERTY device with a dedicated Facebook button was the way to the younger crowd’s heart. It wasn’t, as we learned. While this wasn’t exactly an official “Facebook phone,” this was about as close as folks got (until the same company released yet another Facebook phone this year).

As you can see, the entire phone is a pretty big Facebook advertisement, functionally and aesthetically like a physical News Feed. Aside from that blatant Facebook button stamped right on the front, the simple color scheme is unmistakable, with recognizable accents and little flourishes that are patented from the social network. The device’s ties to Facebook go beyond mere design mimicry. The premise is focused entirely on your digital friends, with a constant direct line right to status updates.

On the spec side, the device came equipped with a 2.6-inch touchscreen, Android Gingerbread, 800-MHz Qualcomm chip, 512MB of RAM and 5-megapixel camera. All that running under a custom skin, which didn’t quite make sense under the small display. The device itself didn’t make entire sense, and tried catering to a marketing that was being strong armed into the past. With iPhone and other popular touchscreen-only devices making waves, the QWERTY segment was already edging toward its inevitable demise.

I think it’s safe to say devices dedicated to a particular social network don’t really work, no matter how popular that social network is. Back in 2011, when this handset officially came out, perhaps the timing made a little more sense than, say, the HTC First. Still, if you had a brain hardwired to Facebook, this device was definitely meant to be in your pocket. Or you could just use a dedicated app.

Last week’s Guess the Phone was Amazon’s very first tablet, the Kindle Fire.

Brandon Russell

Brandon Russell enjoys writing about technology and entertainment. When he's not watching Back to the Future, you can find him on a hike or watching...