The HTC First, a handset with the Facebook Home software pre-loaded, won’t be arriving in the UK as planned. EE was set to be the exclusive carrier for the handset, but is now contacting those who pre-ordered the HTC First to explain the phone is not launching after all. In the U.S., AT&T is the exclusive carrier and has already discounted the device to $0.99 on contract, just weeks after introducing it.
According to U.K.-based site Mobile News, the decision was made by Facebook and not HTC or EE. Sources provided Mobile News the following quote:
“The HTC First has been pulled and will never go on sale in the UK. Sales in the US were poor and Facebook has taken the decision not to give it a more widespread release.”
That’s likely true given the relatively poor reception of the HTC First in the U.S. No official sales figures have been announced, but multiple reports have indicated sales are meager for the mid-range Android smartphone.
Engadget has confirmed the situation with EE, with the carrier saying: “Following customer feedback, Facebook has decided to focus on adding new customization features to Facebook Home over the coming months.” The decision is a sound one as there’s little incentive for people to purchase hardware when the software can be downloaded directly from the Google Play store if desired.
Facebook Home is only available for a limited number of Android phones, but, if the company is serious about increasing engagement through a custom launcher, it should expand availability to more existing phones. Trying to differentiate a piece of hardware through a single social networking interface isn’t the answer. Simply put: the HTC First is a solution in search of a problem.