No more social network phones, please

Anna Scantlin
Contributing Editor from Kansas City, MO
Published: May 23, 2013

Following the successful release of the HTC One, we were able to catch a glimpse of the latest project that HTC and Facebook teamed up to create – the HTC First. My immediate reaction was unfavorable towards the phone, because although I knew there would be a niche market for it I feel like any phone that’s designed to center around one “feature” – in this case, Facebook – won’t be one of those timeless phones that we’ll forever remember in our hearts. It’s a fad, and like every other fad it’s bound to fade out sooner rather than later.

It doesn’t help that Facebook, as a social network, is hardly receiving any praise lately. In my experience, the social networking platform has already gone the way of MySpace. Why did people move from MySpace to Facebook? Because simply put, MySpace went from being all about us and keeping in touch with our buddies to being about how many sponsored products they can shove down our throats each time we visit the site. I used to be able to go to Facebook and scroll down the page and see what my friends were up to – that was it. Now I scroll down the page and I get “Suggested Pages”, “Sponsored Posts”, and pages that commented on some celebrity that I might have liked at some point in my life. Who cares?!

I’m sure that the HTC First was just an attempt to encourage users to keep using the social network in their everyday lives, but as I mentioned before: That ship has sailed. Even when Facebook was still remotely relevant the HTC ChaCha flopped in sales as well. It’s not just Facebook that does it; we’ve seen it happen with Helio for their “MySpace Phone”. Where are Helios today? Exactly.

I don’t want to see any more of these smartphones that come out with a single purpose – we’re beyond that. Our smartphones are a lot more useful than just for social networking, and I’m sure most people realize this. I love – or used to love – social networking. There was a point in my life where the majority of my time on my phone was spent on Facebook, but it was at my own bidding. It was a part of my phone, not the entire idea behind it.

The thing about it is, the First is actually a decent stock Android phone once you disable Facebook Home – especially for $0.99 on a two-year contract. I honestly think this could have pushed sales more than advertising it as a “Facebook Phone”. I personally would be much more interested in purchasing a mid-range stock Android device that has the opportunity to use Facebook Home if I wanted than a “Facebook phone” that many people don’t realize can be turned off with a single tap.

I feel like Facebook Home should have only ever been released as a launcher option for Android devices. Don’t shove it in people’s faces in the form of an entire phone. Perhaps that’s where this whole idea went wrong. They released Facebook Home for Android at the same time they launched their phone. So really, anybody who wanted a Facebook-centric Android device would only have to download the app available on the Google Play store. They could have at least waited a few months after the release of the HTC First, in my opinion. Maybe then the phone would have seen a little more profit. But in the end, I still don’t think that the Facebook phone was a good idea in the first place.

I think if any more social networking sites get the idea that they should make an entire phone devoted to revolve around their social network, they should stop and take a look at Facebook’s abysmal past with the idea. Twitter, don’t do it. Google+, don’t do it. LinkedIn, definitely don’t do it. Just don’t do it. Create a launcher, and only a launcher. That’s it.

Readers, what are your thoughts on social network-centric smartphones? Could the HTC First have ever had a chance even without the release of Facebook Home for Android launcher? What are your thoughts on Facebook Home? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below!

 

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