Facebook could produce its own mobile phones by the end of next year, according to Christian Lindholm, an industry expert and managing partner at design consultancy Fjord.
Lindholm, who pioneered Nokia's user interface and was head of global mobile products at Yahoo, told V3.co.uk that getting into the hardware space would be an obvious move for the social networking site.
He argued that, just as Amazon managed to build its Kindle e-book reader with a "fabulous design" from scratch and without any core competence in that area, Facebook could do the same.
"Facebook is becoming another web - a digital social hub - and if it continues growing I can see a time when it creates Facebook hardware," he said.
"There is enough competence among ex-Nokia and ex-Apple people out there to do the hardware speccing, and manufacturing bases in China that can produce these things."
Lindholm predicted that Facebook could roll out a device as early as the end of 2011, selling as many as 10 to 20 million handsets and creating a " fabulously wealthy business".
As for the operating system, Facebook could choose "Android, Maemo, Limo or even Symbian", said Lindholm, although he added that Android would be the most likely choice.
He also said that this year could see the release of Android-based devices in new form factors, particularly larger devices such as tablets and netbooks.
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