The HTC First is one phone out of a collection of phones placed under the HTC One label: HTC One X, HTC One X+, HTC One S, HTC One V, HTC One SV, HTC One VX, HTC One M7, and the HTC One, one of the top smartphone contenders for 2013. The new HTC First, revealed after the Zuckerberg team’s Facebook Home Launcher announcement, is another smartphone that ties itself to the HTC Corporation’s smartphone history.
Before launching into the smartphone itself, we take a look back at the news surrounding the HTC First and how the phone went from concept to product. Then, we’ll get into the phone’s market performance.
From Concept to Product: HTC First Rumor History
The summer of 2012, as any summer season, was the ideal time for gadget manufacturers. In the same summer that Samsung’s Galaxy S3 launched here in the United States, and Google launched its seven-inch tablet, an informed rumor from the New York Times “Bits” technology division surfaced that claimed Facebook and HTC would partner up to build a Facebook Phone (now called the HTC First). The source claimed that “FB is planning to launch a smartphone that is heavily integrated with its popular social network.” This may sound somewhat reminiscent to those who remember the HTC Cha Cha with a physical Facebook button.
Facebook Phone Dubbed “HTC Myst”: HTC First Specs Emerge
The first week in February (Feb. 5, 2013 or thereabout) provided readers with a name for the phone: it would be called the “HTC Myst” and was believed to have a physical Facebook button to show the promotion of Facebook. According to renown tech sites, the HTC Myst would have a 4.3-inch display, 1280 x 720p resolution (full HD) and 720p video recording, 1.6MP front-facing camera, 5MP rear-facing camera, Snapdragon S4 Plus processor, 1GB of RAM, 16GB of onboard memory storage, and would run Android 4.1.2 (Jelly Bean). The physical Facebook button was once again tossed around as a rumor (though it was labeled incredulous).
The end of March would bring some interesting rumors about the “HTC Myst” mainly that Facebook was preparing to launch its own rumored Facebook Phone at an April 4th announcement. TechCrunch published information it had received from outside sources in which Facebook would not produce its own software for the new HTC phone but would would add “a flavor that will have all sorts of extra Facebook functionality built-in.” Twitter Group @evleaks published the specs list for the upcoming HTC Myst, adding LTE to the list of confirmed specs and features.
HTC Myst becomes the HTC First
Evleaks returned to Twitter some weeks later to release a new photo that confirmed the specs provided previously but with a new name: the HTC Myst would now be called the “HTC First.” By this time, the Facebook phone had already received FCC approval for use on AT&T’s 4G LTE network. The HTC First is now available either unlocked directly from HTC and unsubsidized with AT&T ($350 off-contract) or available for $0.99 with a two-year commitment and comes in colors pale blue, black, red, and white. Since Facebook announced its Facebook Home Launcher prior to the HTC First release, you can rest assured that Facebook Home is the shining destination of the Facebook phone.
Fortune or Fiasco? HTC First Status Update
How is the HTC First faring after a few weeks on the market? A survey released by Retrovo on the same day as the Facebook Phone announcement revealed that, of those who participated in the survey, 82% did not want a Facebook Phone such as the HTC First while 15% want further information about the product before deciding whether or not to buy. Only 3% of those in the study agreed to buy a Facebook Phone, leading some to believe the phone is a niche product for Facebook fanatics only (similar to the Galaxy Note I and II devices).
This has been followed up by other results that are just as disappointing. Since the phone’s release on April 12th, the HTC First has only managed to sell less than 15,000 units of the new handset. This is less than the former-FB phone the HTC Cha Cha (HTC Status) sold in its first month in 2011. BGR reports that smartphones such as the iPhone 5 and Galaxy S4 are making the HTC First “eat dust”:
We’re told that AT&T sales representatives do not like Facebook Home or the [HTC] First at all, and they are making little if any effort to sell the handset to customers. Right now iPhones and Samsung’s Galaxy S4 are the biggest sellers at AT&T by a substantial margin, our source said.
While AT&T is committed to selling the phone and has not confirmed whether or not the HTC First will depart from the carrier after only four weeks, it appears as though the Facebook Home Launcher available at the Google Play Store may have undercut the smartphone’s success.