Facebook may be trying to sweeten the deal to get Home into more hands, or AT&T and HTC might just want their money. But for some reason, the Facebook Phone aka the HTC First’s price has dropped from $99 to $0.99 on contract less than a month after its debut. Considering it comes with unbloated stock Android and a speedy LTE connection, that could be a bargain.
Facebook tells me “We think this is a good move by AT&T and have highlighted the new price on our Facebook Mobile Page.” AT&T is also running a discount special on the popular HTC One and Samsung Galaxy S4, so this might not be as much a reflection of the First’s momentum as an overarching move on the carrier’s part. Plus, all phones get price drops eventually.
Facebook has maintained that it’s committed to working with manufacturers on handsets, so don’t expect this to be the last Facebook Phone. But it seems Home wasn’t a strong enough selling point to convince tons people to buy a phone with a soggy camera — my main gripe about the HTC First. The 5-megapixel lens did a crummy job in low light, and Home buries the controls for the camera making it harder to catch candid shots.
Fewer than 1 million people have downloaded Home for their Android phones, and many fewer may have been willing to pay $99 for a phone with it. But Home will get better, and so will any phone carrying it. As I wrote yesterday, I expect Facebook to address the main complaints about the “apperating system” in its monthly updates. Specifically, I’d bet on a deeper onboarding flow to make Home less confusing, and a way for it to preserve your widgets and homescreen app folders rather than completely replacing them as it does now.
If Home improves soon, or HTC releases another version of the First with a better camera, I think sales of the brand could pick up. Facebook might want to draft some new commercials in the meantime, though, as the last few made the First and Home seem like a non-stop barrage of interruptions.