Science & Technology
3:13 pm
Thu April 4, 2013

A Facebook Phone? Who Else Wants To Be In Your Pocket?

Originally published on Thu April 4, 2013 1:30 pm

Yes, April Fools' Day is SO three days ago, but we couldn't resist ...

Now that Facebook is following Apple, Microsoft and Google into the mobile device business, the team here in NPR's corporate R&D division is discussing what our own branded phone experience might offer. Features we're considering include on-demand "driveway moments," ringtones built on sound clips from today's headlines and Carl Kassel on everyone's voicemail.

Unfortunately we are not the only company that sees gaping holes in the market for loyal customers to telegraph their brand affinities with expensive, pocket-sized devices packed with features that make it easier to do everything but make a phone call and actually hear the person you're talking to.

So what are our competitors up to? Here's what our corporate espionage staff has uncovered so far.

Yahoo Phone: The fallen digital king, struggling to reestablish its reign, offers a new mobile service that only works in the office.

Netflix Phone: The steaming service gives you a personalized library of TV shows and movies you're actually not interested in watching.

LinkedIn Phone: The Facebook for underemployed workaholics makes it easier for former coworkers to find you and ask you for job leads and "Endorsements" (tm).

Amazon Phone: Provides "one-click" calling and suggests an uncanny list of other people you've been meaning to call (your mother will love you for it!).

Pandora Phone: The music service will personalize calls with random ringtones algorithmically generated by your feelings about the callers based on words you've used about them in your email.

Given the increasing competition, we hear the major phone carriers are also considering how to enter the phone market. However, the industry's previous experience offering devices designed to provide personal playlists of hold music while automatically draining your bank account didn't catch on with customers as the companies hoped.

If you have other ideas, leave them in the comments here. Or call us. Operators are standing by.

Copyright 2013 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.