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Hey Facebook, what's in the box??

  • Facebook sends out nebulous, hype-generating event invite
  • Releasing a phone? Popular rumor, but may not happen
Facebook is gearing for an announcement on Tuesday

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Ripping a page out of Steve Jobs' Hype Machine owner's manual, Facebook has announced...  that they have an announcement! And it might be a big announcement! But we don't know, because they're not announcing anything else.

So -- Hype Machine now switched on and puffing out wispy clouds shaped like question marks and exclamation points, simultaneously -- the excited guessing games have begun.

We already know about the redesigned Timeline, the introduction of Snapchat competitor Poke and even the $100 offer to send Mark Zuckerberg a personal message, but apparently Facebook still has something up their sleeve. So what can it be? What's in the box?

Much of the speculation is latching onto the long-rumored Facebook smartphone or tablet, which would be a completely Facebook-integrated device reshaping the intersection of mobile and social media. It would also signal the company's launch into the hardware biz. To some, that's what Tuesday's big reveal is about, no doubt, fait accompli. India's IBN Live insists that "it seems that the time has come to witness the launch."

But the Facebook phone theory is far from a sure thing and is even dismissed fairly out-of-hand by many Facebook watchers as well as someone who would be considered relatively important to its creation.

"It’s a juicy thing to say we’re building a phone, which is why people want to write about it. But it’s so clearly the wrong strategy for us," Zuckerberg told TechCrunch in September. Smokescreen? Maybe. But if the other Wizard of Menlo Park isn't just tinkering with your expectations, there are some other possibilities for Tuesday's BIG! (?) event.

Forbes speculates this might have something to do with firming up its grip on gaming. Zynga, Facebook's largest mobile gaming partner, has been sliding and there's always a desire to keep those 1 billion-plus users' captive with online games.

There are also some especially unsexy options out there. "New server architecture" is among Gizmodo's guesses. Facebook's own analytics provider says it might have do to with its social commerce strategy, using its new Products app to churn out more Facebucks.

Instagram is also in the middle of several rumors, with Facebook eyeing ways to generate more IPO-justifying, investor-satisfying funds from one its most high-profile -- and expensive -- purchases.

Though from the looks of things in our own comments section, the one item everybody wants is neither grand nor dull, just a simple "Dislike" button.

Which is what Tuesday's event may deserve if it really is just about server architecture.

Follow Jonathan Anker on Twitter for more Facebook news and tech stuff @JonFromHLN

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