Poor sales have reportedly led to a surprising $0.99 new-contract price and a possible discontinuation for the HTC First.
Signs of a possible demise arrived last week after the company dropped the phone's price from $99 to $0.99 with a new two-year contract. The carrier also reduced the off-contract price from $450 to $350 USD. Now a supposed "trusted source" has confirmed with BGR that sales of the HTC First have been so "shockingly bad" that AT&T has decided to discontinue the phone on its network altogether.
Another source has also confirmed the initial report, adding that all unsold inventory will be returned to HTC. Currently, the number of unsold units is unknown, but AT&T reportedly only sold fewer than 15,000 units nationwide up until the end of last week despite the drop in price.
The unnamed sources also said that AT&T sales representatives do not like the Facebook Home Android launcher or the actual First phone itself, and are doing very little to sell the handset to customers. It's likely AT&T dropped the device down to less than a buck in order to push units out the door before HTC's in-store display contract expires. The phone maker paid to reserve display space for the Facebook phone for a certain amount of time, and AT&T cannot pull the device until that contract expires.
The HTC First is the "first" smartphone to ship with Facebook Home pre-installed. It's essentially a custom Android launcher that replaces the stock Home screen. It's currently incompatible with nearly every Android device on the market save for the Samsung Galaxy S III, Samsung Galaxy Note II, HTC One X and HTC One X+. The average rating on Google Play is two out of five stars, more than half of which are one-star ratings.
Could the phone itself still be salvaged? It has a decent list of hardware including a 4.3-inch screen, a dual-core Snapdragon S4 Plus clocked at 1.4 GHz, 1 GB of RAM, 16 GB of internal storage, a 5 MP camera on the back, a 1.6 MP camera on the front, dual-band Wireless N and Bluetooth 4.0 connectivity, Android 4.1 "Jelly Bean" and more. However, there's no microSD card slot for expanding the capacity or HDMI output for displaying content on an HDTV.
Currently, the demise of AT&T's HTC First is just a rumor, so take it with a grain of salt. But sources claim that sales have been even worse than the Blackberry Curve-like HTC ChaCha (aka Status here in the States) launched back in June 2011, another Facebook Phone thanks to a dedicated Facebook button planted below the keyboard. Sales were so slow that it sparked rumors about a possible discontinuation on AT&T's network.