Monday, May 13, 2013

AT&T ready to pull the HTC First 'Facebook phone' over lackluster sales

While the Facebook Home app is floundering in the Google Play store (one million downloads, but a 2.2-star rating), so is the first device to sport it by default: the HTC First. A report on Monday indicated that things have become so bad -- in terms of hardware sales -- that AT&T may just can the device.

The report said that the phones, released just over a month ago, are a colossal flop. The remainder, it said, will be returned to HTC as unsold inventory, with only 15,000 handsets reaching the hands of customers.

Things were already looking dire last week. AT&T discounted the HTC First to $0.99 last Thursday.

It's not hard to understand the HTC First's failure. Not only do AT&T sales representatives dislike Facebook Home and the First, there are competitors that are far more attractive to consumers. iPhones and the Samsung Galaxy S4 are the biggest sellers at AT&T by a substantial margin, a source said, and given that, AT&T sales reps are making little to no effort to sell the First to customers.

Despite that, the First will not be pulled from store shelves -- yet. HTC paid to reserve display space in AT&T stores for a certain period of time. It's unclear how long that in-store display contract is, but the phone cannot be pulled until that contract has expired.

Although sales of the device are poor -- we labeled it a low- to mid-range phone, at best, the Home app is doing little better. When the app appeared it was clear to Android lovers that the developers weren't all that familiar with Android. Widgets, docks, and folders are all important to Android users, and guess what was omitted from the first release of the app?

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