The HTC First deserves more shelf life

Evan Selleck
Contributing Editor from Arizona
Published: May 13, 2013

Not every phone seems to get a fair shake. Of course, we all know that no matter how great a phone sounds on paper, or how big an event may be, it doesn't always equal a huge success once it lands on store shelves. Indeed, once a phone launches it's anyone's guess what may really happen.

Sure, there are some safe bets, but once it's ultimately up to the consumer, anything can happen.

That's why it's always interesting to see how well a new phone fares out in the wild. A new phone, with a major new feature, rather than an evolutionary upgrade from a past model. How will it stand against devices that *are* updates of past devices? Does it ultimately stand a chance?

Based on an article published by Boy Genius Report, it may not be going that well for one such device. If you'll recall, HTC's First, the first device to launch with Facebook Home preinstalled (first!), launched on April 12 on AT&T's network.  It did so with a price tag set at $100. That's with a new, two-year contract. About a week ago, that price dropped from $100 down to ninety nine cents.

As you can imagine, that raised some eyebrows.

Now, that report from BGR. They've heard from one of their reliable sources that AT&T is gearing up to can the phone completely. The report suggests that AT&T sold fewer than 15,000 units since last week, when the phone saw its deep price drop. Here's where you'd cue the doomsday music.

The interesting part about this, is that the HTC First isn't a bad phone. In fact, when Aaron reviewed it, he said he'd recommend it for the right person. And, as our own Anna Scantlin suggested, the First is indeed a great "first phone." It's not meant to take the throne as the "next big thing," or even be considered as a high-end device. The First is indeed a mid-range device, and there's nothing wrong with that.

Not every phone that launches *has* to be a high-end device. At least, I hope not.

BGR points out that according to their source, customer support representatives in AT&T stores aren't going out of their way to sell the First. In fact, the report says CSRs simply "don't like" Facebook Home or the First "at all." They'd much rather sell devices like Apple's iPhone 5 or Samsung's Galaxy S 4, apparently.

This isn't new. Actually, I've heard and seen quite the same. In my times within AT&T locations, I've never seen an HTC First that's actually functional. There's a demo video playing on them, but you can't get passed it. Once you try, it prompts you to sign into your Facebook account, and I've yet to see a First that's logged into an account. So, essentially, you can't use the First.

I've asked CSRs if they sell the phone. They've told me no.

Now, I'm sure it's not like this in every store. At least, I hope not. But from what I've seen, I'm not at all surprised that this report from *BGR* suggests what it does.

But as I mentioned earlier, it's interesting to see a phone like the First, which isn't a *bad phone*, go the way of the Dodo already. It's only been a month! I believe wholeheartedly that this phone deserves a bit more shelf life than that. If not just because it isn't a bad device, but because I want to see how Facebook handles those monthly updates they promised for Home. Will they continue, even if it just the app that sees the future?

Have you been able to get your hands on a First at all? If you did, what did you think of it? Or did you skip the device because it wasn't for you at all? Should AT&T, HTC and Facebook have launched the device at ninety nine cents? Or even free? Did the $100 price tag doom the device out of the gate? Let me know what you think.

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