Though the rumors of a smartphone from Facebook have faded in and out over the past few years, there has now been an official announcement from Facebook itself: the social network plans to launch their own smartphone by the end of the year.

Spectators believe that this is because of Google’s recent acquisition of Motorola Mobility. Facebook, not wanting to be left out of the handset loop, is following suit. But instead of purchasing a small company to build a smartphone for them, Facebook plans on hiring a new team of developers. Some of the people that have been sought out to work on the project are ex-Apple engineers who have worked on projects like the iPad and iPhone.

This is supposedly not Facebook’s first attempt at creating a phone.  In early November of last year, Facebook contacted HTC to create a phone that depends on Facebook itself to function. The new program model was nicknamed “Buffy,” and the phone was rumored to be ready for launch in late 2012 with HTC’s help. Reports of a Facebook-oriented smartphone in the works go as far back as 2010, but so far nothing had come to fruition. However, HTC did launch a pair of phones – the HTC Status and the HTC Salsa – that featured an integrated Facebook button.

But this doesn’t seem to be just another shot in the dark for Facebook. The process has progressed and the program “Buffy” now has a dedicated team that’s working on its creation. One of the engineers that Zuckerberg approached reported that Zuckerberg “peppered him with questions about the inner workings of smartphones. It did not sound like idle intellectual curiosity…Mr. Zuckerberg asked about intricate details.”

Facebook has neither confirmed nor denied that this project is in the making, but when questions were asked of the company, they referred most inquiries to this statement given to All Things D late last year: “We’re working across the entire mobile industry; with operators, hardware manufacturers, OS providers, and application developers.”