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Facebook reportedly working with HTC on mobile phone

Handset due to arrive in mid-2013, according to Bloomberg -- the latest in a long string of reports that the social-networking giant is ready to dial up its mobile presence.

Facebook has partnered with handset maker HTC to produce a mobile phone that would be released in mid-2013, Bloomberg reported today.

The news agency disclosed the news in a tweet this afternoon that revealed no other details.

Facebook declined to comment on the details of the Bloomberg report, preferring instead to focus on its broader mobile strategy.

"Our mobile strategy is simple: We think every mobile device is better if it is deeply social," a Facebook representative told CNET. "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."

Rumors and reports that the social network was working on marketing its own smartphone have been circulating for nearly two years. Facebook denied a report in September 2010 that it was developing a mobile operating system to be used on hardware created by a third party, although CNET confirmed that the social-networking giant had reached out to hardware manufacturers and carriers seeking input on a potential Facebook-branded phone.

It's also not the first time we have heard that HTC was involved. All Things D reported last November that Facebook was working with Taiwan-based handset maker to build an Android-based smartphone -- code-named Buffy -- with the Facebook social-networking technology built into the core of the device. In May, DigiTimes reported that the Taiwan-based handset maker was "in cooperation" with Facebook on a customized smartphone that would launch in the third quarter of 2013.

HTC has also produced two smartphones that feature dedicated Facebook buttons -- the HTC Status and the HTC Salsa.

A smartphone phone could go a long way toward relieving a source the headache the social-networking giant has been experiencing with the mobile sector. After reporting that users' shift to smartphones and other mobile gadgets might hurt the company's ad revenue, Facebook has ramped up its focus on mobile advertising. Bloomberg reported last week that the social network was developing a mobile ad product that uses real-time data based on users' locations.

Updated at 4:30 p.m. PT with Facebook comment.