Facebook phone to be dropped in US after poor sales
US carrier AT&T is considering dropping the HTC First, the first smartphone that comes with Facebook’s home screen app pre-installed.
Facebook Home arrived last month, allowing users to modify their Android home screens to prominently display their Facebook profiles while hiding other apps. The social network struck an exclusive deal with AT&T to sell the first handset with the software pre-installed, the HTC First, for $100. It also struck deals with Orange and EE to launch the software in Europe later this summer.
But mobile operator AT&T is already considering ditching the phone, according to BGR sources who cite sales of “fewer than 15,000 units”. AT&T hasn’t made any official sales data available.
The company has ambiguously stated that it’s made “no decisions on future plans” for the device, but did slash the HTC First’s price last week from $99 to $1 on a two-year contract, and the handset-only purchase price from $450 to $350.
Separately, Facebook revealed that the Home app had been downloaded one million times across Android devices.
At the time of its launch, analysts speculated that highly customised Android interfaces like Facebook Home could prove a headache to Google in time.
But Android chief Sundar Pichai has proven unfazed by Facebook Home, hinting in an interview this week that a pure-play social focus on Android wouldn’t work.
“As for the specific product, my personal take on it is that time will tell,” he told Wired. “To Mark [Zuckerberg], people are the centre of everything. I take a slightly different approach. I think life is multi-faceted: people are a huge part of it, but not the centre and be-all of everything.”
EE is due to launch the HTC First in the UK this summer, but hasn’t confirmed an exact date or pricing.