Just one month after the HTC First was released, AT&T has already reportedly decided to discontinue it due to poor sales.
The HTC First, or the “Facebook phone” as it is often called, was released among high expectations as it was the first device to ship with the new Facebook Home feature pre-installed. This came after months of speculation that the popular social networking site was preparing to enter the mobile phone industry in a big way.
As The Diplomat reported in April when the HTC First’s existence was first confirmed, Facebook Home “replaces your phone’s regular home-screen and delivers a new user interface that is focused mainly on people and social interactions,” with the idea being that it would enable users to more easily interact with their contacts.Enjoying this article? Click here to subscribe for full access. Just $5 a month.
From the start things did not go well for Facebook or the Taiwan-based HTC. Reviews were lukewarm at best for the device. In reviewing the HTC First and its Facebook Home Feature, ABC News remarked, “A Nice Place to Visit, but Not Quite Home.”
Starting at an initial retail price of US$99.99 with a two-year contract, already significantly lower than the nearly US$200 high-end competitors like the iPhone go for, AT&T announced last week that they were lowering the price of the Facebook Phone… to US$0.99. That’s a sizeable reduction for any month; it’s nothing short of a catastrophe when the reduction is made one month after a product’s release.
Amazingly, things have continued to get worse for Facebook, if BGR, a popular mobile phone site is to be believed.
Earlier this week BGR’s Zach Epstein reported, citing a “trusted source” within AT&T, that the company has decided to discontinue the phone altogether.
“Our source at AT&T has confirmed that the HTC First, which is the first smartphone to ship with Facebook Home pre-installed, will soon be discontinued and unsold inventory will be returned to HTC. How much unsold inventory is there? We don’t have an exact figure, but things aren’t looking good. According to our source, AT&T sold fewer than 15,000 units nationwide through last week when the phone’s price was slashed to $0.99.”
Epstein went on to say that the source did not give him an exact date for when AT&T would stop selling the HTC First, but that it was trying to unload as much inventory as possible by offering the phone for 99 cents. Our guess is that this leak just complicated that plan.
If the rumor is accurate, this certainly constitutes another huge setback for Mark Zuckerberg and Facebook, the first being its disastrous IPO offering. Still, social media is so integrated into so many people’s everyday lives that it has the resilience to overcome the occasional blunder. Then again, given the dismal reports on Zuckerberg’s recent effort to get into the lobbying industry, these blunders might be a more frequent occurrence.