Facebook smartphone rumors are heating up again, with reports that it's hiring engineers with iPhone experience. The social network giant has reportedly hired a half dozen engineers with this background, as well as one who worked on the iPad. Facebook hasn't advertised these jobs, but rather courted these people privately. The company's been scrambling to come up with a mobile strategy, because roughly half its members access the site from smartphones. However, it hasn't been capitalizing on mobile advertising like it's done on its website. Facebook's phone project, code named "Buffy" (as in "Buffy the Vampire Slayer"), is ongoing. The company is building its own mobile platform on top of Android, with Taiwan’s HTC aiding in the hardware development. A Facebook smartphone could roll out in the second half of this year. With the chunk of change from its IPO, Facebook could buy the parts it needs to build a smartphone. Rumors have swirled that it could purchase Opera for the browser, or buy the struggling BlackBerry maker Research in Motion, or HTC. Developing smartphone hardware, though, isn't easy. Just ask Dell, HP and Sony. In response to inquiries about its smartphone efforts, the company pointed to a comment previously sent to AllThingsD:
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.