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Facebook device launch prompts MVNO speculation

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Ahead of the anticipated launch of a Facebook-branded smartphone on Thursday, one industry analyst has warned of the increasing disruption that the social network could bring to the mobile communications industry. In a research note issued Tuesday, Strand Consult said that “companies such as Facebook are rendering mobile operators into dumb pipes [and] all smartphones into dumb terminals.”

Strand suggested that the launch of a self-branded device would herald a significant shift in business model for Facebook, with the social network poised to start charging for core communication services and perhaps launch an MVNO.

“One billion users already consider Facebook as their de facto telephone book for friends and family and use the platform for communicating by SMS, text, image and video. Adding mobile voice and data to this mix would not be a stretch,” the firm said. “Why should Facebook users buy a data package from an operator to access Facebook when they could just buy their data access to Facebook from Facebook itself?”

Facebook announced that it had amassed more than one billion subscribers a thte end of 2012, with 680 million regular users of its mobile products.


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