Facebook Inc (FB): Did It Launch the Branded Smartphone Phenomenon?

Why not a Twitter phone? Following the launch of Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB)‘s Home earlier this month, it could be heralding the start of a new trend: the branded smartphone.

Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB)

Of course, smartphones with designer labels are not exactly new, as Swiss watch maker TAG Heuer, for example, has produced branded smartphones for years, starting with its Meridiist line in 2008. Last year it offered up a $6,700 Link handset, and just last month you could get yourself its new Racer version for a modest $3,700. Moreover, designers such as Versace and Prada have also applied their name to handsets.

But the Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) Home smartphone is something different, and it’s likely to lead in all sorts of directions. How the handset interacts with your Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) feed by dominating the screen and purpose of the phone naturally leads to speculation that other social-media sites could similarly brand their own devices, hence the Twitter phone.

The Kindle phablet
But why stop at social media? As my Foolish colleague Evan Niu has chronicled, it seems for all intents and purposes that Amazon.com, Inc. (NASDAQ:AMZN) is taking the steps necessary to cobble together a new device.

From hiring away smartphone executives from Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT) to acquiring voice recognition expert EVI, the online retailer sure as heck looks like it’s planning a smartphone assault. And it makes sense, because it could drive mobile users to greater consumption of Amazon.com, Inc. (NASDAQ:AMZN) content, which is really what the Internet retailer is after. The Kindle tablet, after all, is designed to help move books, music, and other content, and a smartphone could be optimized for just such a purpose, particularly if reports are true that it’s teamed up with Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL)‘s manufacturer Foxconn or if it really wants a 4.7-inch screen, as Digitimes has suggested.

More than just a niche for some luxury label to slap its name on a handset, a Bank of America Corp (NYSE:BAC) smartphone could provide fully linked access to a customer’s checking, brokerage, and credit card accounts as well as his mortgage, while displaying local branch and ATM locations. Get your local refi rates while transferring cash between accounts as you stand in the grocery line.

Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT) is already working on extending its Surface brand, though a lukewarm response to the Surface tablet featuring its Windows 8 OS may ultimately delay the launch of a Surface smartphone.