Facebook teases 'awesome' launch next week

Could upcoming release by a free app optimized for Apple's iPad?

Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg is trying to build some excitement for an announcement the company is planning next week.

Zuckerberg, Facebook's CEO and co-founder, told a group of reporters at the social network's Seattle office on Thursday that the company is working to "launch something awesome" next week, according to a Reuters news service report. He added that the announcement could be connected to the mobile or tablet market.

Reuters noted that Zuckerberg said the project was developed in the Seattle office, which is Facebook's only engineering center away from its main Palo Alto, Calif. offices.

Facebook did not respond to a request for further information.

Online speculation is growing that the upcoming announcement could be connected to the social network finally releasing a free app for Apple's highly popular iPad tablet.

Earlier this month, the New York Times reported that an optimized app was in the works.

If Facebook is going to release an iPad app, its been a long time coming. Since the iPad was unveiled more than a year ago, industry analysts have been wondering why it's taken Facebook so long to optimize an app for it.

Facebook has an app that iPad owners can use, but it was built for the iPhone and has not been optimized for the iPad's larger screen or other features. Zeus Kerravala, an analyst with Yankee Group, called the current un-optimized app "lame" in an earlier interview.

Sharon Gaudin covers the Internet and Web 2.0, emerging technologies, and desktop and laptop chips for Computerworld. Follow Sharon on Twitter at @sgaudin or subscribe to Sharon's RSS feed . Her e-mail address is sgaudin@computerworld.com.

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