Social media giant Facebook is close to a deal with Taiwanese electronics manufacturer HTC Ltd. to manufacture two Facebook-branded cellphone models in the near future, a financial newspaper says.


Stephen Simburg uses his mobile phone to log into his Facebook account at a coffee shop in Vancouver, Wash. last year. The social network giant is rumoured to be launching its own cellphone. ((Greg Wahl-Stephens/Associated Press))

Citing unnamed sources, London-based financial newspaper City A.M. reported Thursday that two Facebook phones will be unveiled at the influential Mobile World Congress in Barcelona next month.

The phones will be adorned with the familiar Facebook white-on-blue colours and lowercase branding, the report said. The phones will run on a modified Android platform.

Facebook’s Joe Hewitt and Matthew Papakipos are reportedly spearheading the project. The two are high-profile defectors to Facebook from Silicon Valley rivals  — the former helped create the Firefox web browser and the latter helped Google Inc. with its web browser, Chrome.

Google partnered with HTC when it launched its Nexus One or so-called "Google Phone" in 2010.

Both Facebook and HTC have declined to comment on the report, but City A.M. was also the first publication to break the news of the Nexus One in January 2010.

Rumours of a Facebook phone first surfaced last fall, but the company has repeatedly denied plans to enter the smartphone space.

Thus far, the company — which has been valued at more than $50 billion US — has avoided branching beyond its social media base. But in recent months the firm has been looking to leverage its dominance in that market into the growing mobile space.