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Facebook developing for all phones, but not making its own

by Phil Hornshaw

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said flatly at a press event this week that the social networking company has no plans to introduce a Facebook phone.

Instead, Zuckerberg announced a bunch of new updates to its iOS and Android Facebook apps, as PC World reported. There’s nothing new on the way for iPad, but the updates will help bring the Android app in line with the iPhone version. Facebook on Android has a few problems (like being hard to read), and Zuckerberg mentioned that the developer Facebook had hired to make the app was acquired by Google (GOOG) during the process, which he remarked was “obnoxious.”

Facebook’s major updates to its apps are focused mostly on its location-based service Places. Along with a new connection feature that works basically like Facebook Connect on the web, any app authorized third-party app will now be able to write to, read and search the Facebook API for Places. That means other location-based services, such as Loopt, can work in tandem with Places.

Will “Deals” be a Foursquare killer?

Along with adding further support for the Places feature, Zuckerberg announced a new Deals feature, which uses users’ locations to let businesses offer them coupons and other offers. It’s a pretty big shot across the bow of Foursquare and similar services, which are working to make location-based coupons more ubiquitious and, well, useful. They and Facebook still probably have time, however -- only four percent of Americans use check-in services as it stands, according to an MSNBC report, so unless Facebook or some other service suddenly blows up, they should have time refine the process and make check-ins more enticing.

A crowded smartphone galaxy

Meanwhile, even though Facebook won’t be jumping directly into the smartphone market, another phone is making headway against Apple’s (AAPL) juggernaut iPhone -- at least in Japan, and at least for this week.

According to Japanese news site The Chosonilbo, Samsung’s (005930.KS) Android-running Galaxy S outsold the iPhone 4 last week, leaving the 32GB iPhone in second place and the 16GB iPhone in third. Add the sales of both types of iPhones together and they outrank Galaxy, but up until now, both iPhones have been Nos. 1 and 2 in the country for 18 straight weeks.

Sure, the last week of October was the Galaxy S debut in Japan, so it remains to be seen if the Android phone will hang on to its spot atop the pile, but it does indicate that there is excitement for the Galaxy S. Could this also be an indication of similar success for the Galaxy Tab when it comes out later this month to do battle with the iPad?