The HTC First, what was dubbed the first Facebook phone (of many, according to Facebook) was met with criticism and terrible sales figures (use URL here for your former article!) after a few weeks. At that point in time, BGR claimed that AT&T was interested in shutting down the HTC First and moving on.
When a phone goes from $99 on a two-year contract to 99 cents in a matter of a few weeks, there is a problem. After all, it is no secret that any carrier (AT&T chief among them) wants to make money off of new smartphone sales. 99-cent sales do not make as much money as $99 sales or $199 sales, as the iPhone seems to receive each year.
To add insult to injury, AT&T contacted HTC and sent the HTC First Facebook phone back to HTC in record numbers, according to a rumor. This was denied by CNET, however, as having any merit.
Well, AT&T seems to have suddenly changed its tune regarding the HTC Facebook phone. According to AT&T Mobility CEO Ralph de la Vega, AT&T’s price drop on the Facebook phone was met with surprising sales figures:
We sold a bunch more when we lowered the price. We sold everything we had on that [Facebook phone].
While it is true that the Facebook phone was a flop, it also shows that some people are willing to buy a phone that few like for their own personal reasons.
Why the “Flop” Ended Up as a “Prop”: The Facebook Phone’s Inventory SellOut
There are a few reasons why the Facebook phone turned from flop to prop immediately. Chief among these reasons lies the price. Some tech enthusiasts and fans want to purchase the latest tech that comes with a better megapixel camera than everyone else’s, more RAM, internal memory storage, larger screen, and more durable build. To purchase these types of devices however, one must pay a great sum of money up-front.
For example, if you want a water and dust-resistant phone today such as the Samsung Galaxy S4 Active, the Sony Xperia Z, or the Cat B15, you must pay a minimum of $350 up-front (Cat B15), or pay as high as $600-$700. Thankfully, the Xperia Z’s price has dropped approximately $200 from $775 to $575, the starting price of the unlocked HTC One (not to be confused with the HTC One Google Edition that arrived at the Google Play Store this week).
With the Facebook phone, however, you do not have to pay so much money up-front to walk away with a decent Android experience that does basic operations well. For many consumers who do not want the latest and greatest specs and features, the Facebook phone was a “steal of a deal” and would keep money in their pockets. Price is always a big factor in such cases.
Secondly, some people want the Facebook phone because of its potential for the future. While Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg has gone to HTC (and recently, Samsung) in order to see if the leading Android manufacturer would agree to produce a second Facebook phone, Samsung and other manufacturers have no interest in doing so. However, what is considered to be terrible and a flop today may become a prop tomorrow.
What if Facebook’s “HTC First” turns out to be a “prop” in the days ahead? What if the third Facebook phone turns out to be a huge hit? Would it not produce a sentimental experience, similar to that of the iPhone? Think about the iPhone when it first emerged on the market, and think about how many people used normal cell phones and could not fathom the idea of paying for internet service on their phone bill each month. Now, the iPhone has become an icon of success for Apple, and the first iPhone is now a historic smartphone of immense value.
The HTC First Facebook phone may become an iconic smartphone with historical value a few years from now. Look at Samsung’s climb to the top; who’s to say Facebook cannot make that same climb? I’m not saying that Facebook will, but anything is possible. As for now, AT&T has the HTC First listed as “out of stock,” but we’re not sure if AT&T will remain committed to selling the Facebook smartphone. After all, a new study shows that 91% out of 1,000 participants do not care for Facebook’s Home Launcher. If the majority of consumers care little for Facebook Home, why would they care about a Facebook phone — the price aside?
What do you think of the HTC First Facebook phone? Let us know in the comments.