Facebook smartphone to be 'released next year'

Social networking giant Facebook is to launch its own smartphone by next year, reports have suggested.

The New York Times cited unnamed sources, including Facebook employees, suggesting that the network had been hiring several smartphone engineers.

Facebook recently admitted it was struggling to make money out of its growing mobile audience.

The company, which recently floated on the stock market, has also just launched its own mobile app store.

The App Center currently offers links to Facebook-enabled apps within Apple's iOS and Google Android stores but developers will soon be able to write apps to be placed exclusively in Facebook's store.

According to the New York Times, Facebook has hired experts who worked on the iPhone and other smartphones.

It quoted a Facebook employee as saying the site's founder Mark Zuckerberg was "worried that if he doesn't create a mobile phone in the near future... Facebook will simply become an app on other mobile platforms".