**Editor's Note: Click here for our list of February's hottest selling smartphones to see how HTC fared against the competition.**
Plenty of mystery surrounds Thursday's expected introduction of a "Facebook phone," an HTC device that's generating a lot of discussion in the blogosphere.
Many sites are reporting that the new Android-based smartphone would somehow be capable of opening Facebook in the device without having to use an app. Android Police said this week that the phone has the codename "Myst"; runs on Android 4.1.2; has 1GB of RAM; a 5MP rear-facing camera; and will launch on AT&T's network in the U.S. Its specifications indicate that this will be a mid-range device, lying somewhere between "superphone" and novice-oriented, but clearly aimed at the avid social-networker.
While there's much yet to learn about the purported device, analysts at Analysys Mason say Facebook made the right choice in teaming with an Android manufacturer.
"Android is the largest smartphone operating system, representing nearly 60 percent of worldwide smartphone shipments in 2012," noted Analysys Mason's principal analysts Ronan de Renesse and Stephen Sale. "More importantly, Android dominates the low-end smartphone segment in which most future growth will come from. Android is therefore tactically important for Facebook to increase its reach on mobile and grow customer engagement with its apps."
The analysts also said Facebook could increase its app engagement sixfold if it were to become the default communication platform for telephony, messaging and email, something that seems within reach. The company is far and away the market-share leader among mobile-device users.
Follow senior online managing editor @Craig_Galbraith on Twitter.