May 14, 2013
Troubles With HTC First And Facebook Home
Michael Harper for redOrbit.com — Your Universe Online
Home, Facebook´s “suite of apps” which essentially turns an Android phone into a social portal, is free of widgets or customizable options normally found on other Android phones. In fact, it´s almost like iOS in this way; it gives the user one way to look at their phone and very few options to personalize it. Now, less than one month after Facebook announced the long-rumored Home, conflicting news about both the app and the only phone to have Home natively installed is starting to emerge on some tech blogs. The Boy Genius Report (BGR) yesterday claimed AT&T has decided to discontinue the HTC First after a dramatic price cut failed to boost sales.Shortly thereafter, CNET heard from their source at AT&T who disagreed with BGR, saying there are no plans to discontinue the First just yet. Both Facebook and HTC declined to comment about these rumors.
BGR stated their inside source confirmed AT&T would be discontinuing the HTC First and sending all unsold devices back to HTC. Their source even claimed slashing the price to just .99 cents last week only resulted in some 15,000 sales of the device. The same source told BGR that AT&T sales reps are partially to blame for poor sales, noting these employees simply do not like Home and therefore are not pushing it. Though this sounds like pure speculation, sales staff members have been blamed before for low sales when they prefer one device over another. (see: iPhone and Windows Phone)
BGR and CNET clearly have two different inside sources at AT&T, because when the latter checked with their insider, they heard a different message.
“I am not aware of any discussion ever taking place about sending the phones back or to stop selling the First," said CNET´s source, who is reportedly close to discussions between AT&T and HTC.
When asked, an AT&T representative told CNET the company routinely does pricing promotions, suggesting the recent price cut of the First isn´t a sign of imminent doom. A representative also reached out to BGR after their story ran, claiming the company has yet to make any decisions about the fate of the First.
Richard Windsor of the RadioFreeMobile consultancy doesn´t see the recent and dramatic price drop -- from $99 to .99 cents -- as a run-of-the-mill pricing promotion.
"With that one slash of the knife, AT&T has confirmed what everyone had already gathered; the Facebook phone is proving very unpopular," said Windsor in an interview with The Guardian.
"If this was an isolated incident, then one could put it down to poor hardware, but installations and reviews of the software on other devices have also been poor."
According to a piece on TechCrunch by Josh Constine posted on Sunday, Facebook Home may be too much like iOS to please Android users, the only customers who have access to this suite of apps. Last November, Constine wrote about Facebook´s push to get their app developers to use Android instead of iOS amidst claims the company was spending too much time focused on iPhone.
Constine believes these engineers weren´t interested in going over to the Google side and therefore subconsciously developed Home to be an operating system iPhone lovers would enjoy.
“When I first tried out Home, I admit I was wooed by Cover Feed and Chat Heads, while those absent Android personalizations didn´t phase me. Why? Because I´m an iPhone user,” writes Constine.
Though there´s no hard evidence explaining why Android users are giving Home a miss, it is clear the suite of apps isn´t performing as well as Facebook -- and possibly AT&T -- would like.