It's never a good sign when a cellphone company lowers the price of a cellphone so soon after its release, which makes the new, very low $0.99 price of HTC's so-called Facebook phone so very foreboding. It's only been a little over the month since the HTC First's debut at $99 — with a two-year AT&T contract.* The new 99-percent discount suggests (or perhaps even confirms) that the social-media centric gadget, hyped by Mark Zuckerberg himself as an exclusive partnership in a rollout of his Facebook-first operating system, isn't selling too well. After all, Nokia slashed its Lumia 900 in half after a little over three months of struggling sales, and it looks like a similar thing may be happening to HTC, despite the Facebook marketing surge — overcrowded airplanes and all. One analyst said his local AT&T store had sold zero Facebook phones.
It's not too surprising the HTC First hasn't exactly flown off shelves, and not just because it's a mid-level phone in a Galaxy and iPhone universe. Reviewers found the first Facebook phone addictive but refused to recommend it to anyone who wasn't a Facebook "addict," whatever that means. I liked the phone itself after trying it for a week, just not the Facebook-as-a-home-screen part of it. Plus, the best part of Facebook's new mobile OS — Chat Heads — is available through the social network's Messenger app, on all Android phones, without having to buy a brand-new device. Perhaps there just aren't that many actual Facebook addicts out there? Or maybe they're all so cheap (read: young) that a price cut can lure them in.
*This post originally referred to the Facebook Phone as the HTC One.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.