updated 12:25 pm EST, Tue November 22, 2011
Facebook phone group had to cut back expectations
The self-made Facebook phone nearly fell apart after the team tasked with designing it realized it wouldn't come close to challenging Apple at the time, a further exposé uncovered on Tuesday. The team, nicknamed "Slayer" based on shorthand for "Social Layer," had wanted to do everything from the OS to the hardware in-house, but AllThingsD understood that its costs and required knowledge quickly became "impossible." Such limitations led some in the team to think they would never have a device that could compete with the iPhone.
Many of those named in the earliest leaks were part of the Slayer team, including original Facebook iOS app developer Joe Hewitt, former Chrome OS developer Matt Papakipos, and project head Chamath Palihapitiya. Some of those, such as Palihapitiya and Hewitt, left the company entirely.
Its current project, the HTC Buffy, is considered a rebirth under CTO Bret Taylor, who was already mentioned as attached to the project. Choosing a heavily customized Android with support for HTML5 apps was a concession to Facebook's lack of experience outside of social networks, contacts said. The choice was also briefly dropped and then redone, they added, though it's not known if this was out of spite for Google or strictly technical.
Facebook's current project is new enough that it's already known to be shipping within one to 1.5 years at the earliest, putting it into 2013. HTC's Status (ChaCha) and Salsa are currently the closest from the actual hardware designer, although the INQ Cloud Touch is the closest to focusing on Facebook.