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Facebook phone possible as Zuckerberg hires iPhone engineers

Facebook is recruiting Apple engineers with iPhone experience to build what could be the first real Facebook phone.

Stop me if you've heard this one before: Facebook could be making a phone. The old rumours have resurfaced, but this time it seems Mark Zuckerberg and co are actively recruiting Apple engineers with iPhone experience -- and Facebook's need to grab hold of the mobile market has never been more pressing.

The world-conquering social network is headhunting Apple engineers who worked on the iPhone and iPad, according to recruiters, to bolster in-house teams already working on a Facephone.

A couple of years ago, the Internets got all giddy at reports of a Facebook phone. But the company wasn't yet ready to make its own hardware, instead concentrating on baking easy access to Facebook features into the software of every smart phone, then in the early stages of their explosion in popularity.

That strategy culminated in the HTC Salsa and HTC ChaCha, two Android phones sporting a dedicated Facebook button -- so, for example, you could share photos as soon as you snapped them, or you could post a status update or message with just a push of the little F.

But then the rumours resurfaced a year ago with the HTC Buffy, a project reported to be ongoing at Facebook Towers.

Facebook has conquered the Internet to such an extent that hardware may be the next logical step. The Like button and Facebook logins to other websites have made Facebook almost like an extra layer on top of the web, so why not take over your phone too?

But most importantly, Facebook recently revealed it makes zero cash from mobile users, as they don't see adverts -- which in this increasingly mobile world is a hole in the business model you could drive an aircraft carrier through. Team Zuck have to establish themselves some mobile money before Apple and Google decide to shut them out.

Facebook's foundation of its own app store for iPhone and Android could be just the first step towards a blue-branded Zuckerphone. Do you like the idea of a Facebook phone? Is Facebook already too all-pervasive? Tag me with your thoughts in the comments or on our Facebook page.