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Buffy the Facebook phone coming?

20th Century Fox Television

"Buffy" is on her way!

"Slayer" was the working name when Facebook labs first launched its black ops detail, tasked with building a real-life Facebook phone — something we first heard about almost a year and half ago.  

Short for "Social Layer," Slayer was expected to feature integrated hardware and software, and allow Facebook to monetize in-app payments, All Things D recently reported. With the code name later changed to the less-violent sounding "Buffy" — in honor of one of the best TV shows ever — the team worked in its own separate building on Facebook’s Palo Alto campus, access to which came via restricted keycards.

Fourteen months later — following several poorly-selling HTC handsets with little more than dedicated Facebook sharing buttons – the long-rumored Facebook phone may soon be more than the stuff of legend. 

"Facebook is now partnering with HTC to build an Android-based phone — code-named "Buffy" — around its social operating system platform," AllThingsD reports. Despite Facebook’s frenemy status with Google, the Facebook phone will reportedly operate on a customized Android OS — and it’s got a real hero’s journey ahead.

More than fashionably late to the party, the Facebook phone would enter a market owned by Apple and Android. What was the hold up? According to AllThingsD, Facebook’s original goal was to build a cellular device better than iPhone.

The project crashed and burned, reportedly because of budget constraints and office politics confounding the overly ambitious attempt to do something outside Facebook’s field of expertise. But "Buffy" is back — projected to hit the market in 12 to 18 months — even though there’s no clear indication that anybody wants to buy it.

"Our mobile strategy is simple: We think every mobile device is better if it is deeply social," a Facebook spokesperson told AllThingsD, neither confirming or denying Buffy is on the way. “We’re working across the entire mobile industry; with operators, hardware manufacturers, OS providers, and application developers to bring powerful social experiences to more people around the world."

Conquering mobile may be crucial to Facebook’s ongoing success, however. The social network is one of the most popular apps going, but as AllThingsD notes, in the end it’s just an app.

"Apple has has fought to maintain strict control over payments within its mobile apps, even if those apps run off of Facebook’s platform, and it also made Twitter its social partner," AllThingsD reports. "Google is increasingly a direct competitor, as it is working to promote and integrate its own social network, Google+, across all its products."

While Facebook is now part of our daily lives, it’s hard to imagine anybody wants a phone with deeper integration, which notably means more to the social network than to mobile users. Facebook wants the money that comes from the ability to process in-app payments — something it doesn’t get with its current partnered phones.

Using a Facebook-customized Android OS, however, may mean that mobile customers won’t have access to the Google apps we now have in our daily lives. A phone without access to Google Maps isn’t a world anybody wants to live in. Besides that, even the most hardcore Facebook users would be hard-pressed to dump the iPhone because it’s better for the social network.

More on Facebook:

via All Things D

Helen A.S. Popkin goes blah blah blah about the Internet. Tell her to get a real job on Twitter and/or FacebookAlso, Google+.