The Biggest Flop of 2013: The HTC First

Released in April 2013, Facebook launched their own home screen replacement for certain Android handsets which unsurprisingly circulated entirely around the Facebook platform. They also partnered with HTC to release the HTC First, the first handset which had Facebook Home plastered over the top. Facebook Home replaced the phones lock screen and launcher in order to display Facebook statuses and notifications from the social networking app. Though an interesting concept at heart, just like a toddler learning to walk it soon fell flat on its face but did it get back up?

Described as “a nice novelty”, then “horrendously slow” and impractical overall by our own George Dimmock who took the plunge and used Facebook Home for an entire week on his Samsung Galaxy S III, Facebook’s foray into custom user interfaces and home screen replacements soon became pretty short lived.

The first Facebook Phone by HTC, Aptly named the HTC First, this handset went on sale in the US in April only to have the price of the handset slashed by AT&T a month afterwards who then discontinued the phone literally a week later. The HTC First didn’t even make it over to the UK like it was planned to with Facebook themselves pulling the Facebook Phone from distributing in the UK.

Overall Facebook Home has been downloaded a total of five million times since it’s launch in April, compare that to Instagram’s 100- 500 million times that’s really not a lot, at all. But could that all change now Facebook have redesigned the app?

Nope. Facebook seem to have removed Facebook focused things such as your Avatar and Notifications from the lock screen now allowing you to unlock your phone by swiping up from anywhere instead of on your face like you used to. The Cover Feed that used to contain a ton of Facebook themed things now also includes Instagram, Tumblr, Pintrest and Flickr content.

There’s also no clunky home replacement there either, as Facebook Home seems to have morphed into a dedicated lock screen replacement with the ability to take pictures by swiping right and view the Cover Feed by swiping left to see everyone’s status updates and instapics.

As for the HTC First, it seems to have been erased from existence with the URL that used to point to the HTC UK page flagging up a 404 page not found. eBay is coming up with a couple of the handsets at around $179 with a handful of delivery and import charges in order to get the handset in the UK, but options are pretty limited.

Overall it seems that Facebook may be redeeming itself a little bit by completely removing most of the Facebook focused things from their fairly un-customisable lock screen replacement but the biggest flop of all has to be the HTC First which really only made it onto AT&T’s shelves for a month until being scrapped.