Facebook phone rumors resurface, Mark Zuckerberg fails to deny them

Let's try to untangle this Facebook mobile phone mess, shall we? Mark Zuckerberg has recently sat down with Michael Arrington of TechCrunch -- the source of the original rumor -- to try and dispel some of the confusion that has arisen as a result. The first thing the Zuckmeister says is that Facebook isn't looking to build its own OS or hardware and is absolutely opposed to competing with the likes of the iPhone and Android. What Zuckerberg wants is deeper social integration, positing the question, "What could we do if we also started hacking at a deeper level?" While there'll be no single answer or solution for all phones, Mark firmly believes that social elements have to be designed in from the start:

On phones we can actually do something better. We can do a single sign-on if we do a good integration with a phone, rather than just doing something where you go to an app and it's automatically social or having to sign into each app individually. Those are the two options on the web. Why not for mobile? Just make it so that you log into your phone once, and then everything that you do on your phone is social.

Notably, he fails to deny rumors of such deeply integrated devices being in the pipeline, and Bloomberg has trotted out a trio of insider sources who claim INQ Mobile has been engaged to produce two smartphones with just that purpose in mind -- you know the same INQ that already makes Facebook-heavy handsets, so this could very well be little more than a rebrand. One is said to feature a QWERTY keypad and a touchscreen while the other is an all touch affair, and both are reputedly headed for an early 2011 launch in Europe, followed by a late 2011 arrival in the USA. AT&T is the carrier that's closest to picking them up, we're told, though deals haven't been finalized on what could be sub-$100 phones after subsidies are distributed. So, whatever happens, we're staring down the barrel of a couple of glorified featurephones with deep social integration. Kin 2.0, anyone? Anyone?