new FB-centric UI, Facebook Home. But now, the HTC First got a considerable price drop; from $99, it was lowered to $0.99—almost free with an AT&T contract. If this was any indicator of the product’s market performance, we could easily assume that this Facebook phone flopped, and the price drop is the only way for HTC and for AT&T to cut their losses.
HTC First up close
Before throwing any dirt on Facebook’s flagship phone, it is important to see how it stacks up with other smartphones available in the market today. Considering that it was released just last April, the First accompanies the likes of the Galaxy S4, HTC One, and iPhone 5 as the latest gadgets that modern technology has to offer. Samsung’s S4 and HTC’s One are both priced $199 with AT&T contracts, so even with the initial $99 tag on the First makes it a very affordable option. It was already a bargain upon its release because on paper, its specs was no push-over. It comes with a decent dual-core 1400 MHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 400 processor and an industry-standard 1 GB RAM. Its 4.3-inch screen is still bigger than that of the iPhone 5, and its 341-ppi, 720×1280-pixel resolution is top-of-the-line, no doubt. In essence, the $100 price for all of these features is a great deal; unfortunately, it is a deal that not a lot of people really bought into.
The Facebook Treatment
So the question now is what went wrong with the HTC First? If it is not about the price, or the physical attributes of the phone, then it all boils down to one thing: Facebook. A phone focused on the social networking platform is not really a bad idea, even though it yielded very few takers. Share-happy people who can’t seem to miss posting about the goings-on in their lives would love to have one of these handsets. It is skinned to allow quick access to Facebook’s main features, giving users the option to quick post everything they’re doing on their wall. Facebook messaging is integrated with the phone’s messaging functions, even adding a cool pop-up of users’ profile mug whenever they send a message.
But the idea of having a Facebook phone for the rest of your life (or until you get a new handset) could be the main reason why not a lot of people are taking the bait. Unless users learn how to root and install a mod Android OS, First owners are stuck with a phone that is basically good for one thing only. Yes, it can run different applications, and it is especially great for Facebook-related social apps like Instagram; but the idea of bringing a Facebook phone to work and using it as a business phone (
Bang for Your Buck?
Now that the HTC First is just less than a dollar, it would be interesting to see if more people will be inclined to get a 2-year subscription for this Facebook phone. AT&T is giving a decent-to-good phone away for free, and it’s a deal that’s definitely sweeter than their previous offer. In the strictest sense, the HTC First now gives you a bang for your buck, as it looks good both on paper and on the price tag. It has all the bells and whistles of a reliable smartphone, so the only question now is, are you willing to live and breathe Facebook for the next 24 months of your life?