) Home may be a success, but the phone that comes with it
pre-installed -- HTC's First -- has become one of the year's
biggest flops. When the First was initially released, Global
Equities Research analyst Trip Chowdhry estimated that the device
less than 10,000 units
Whether or not that is true, the world may never know. Based
on HTC's actions this week, however, it seems that the First was
not very successful.
) lowered the price of the Facebook-oriented handset from $99 to
just $0.99. The carrier has not commented on the new price, but
HTC defended the First by telling
that "promotional pricing is common in the mobile industry."
HTC's excuse was not enough to persuade Chowdhry, who is
convinced that the First has flopped.
"What it really shows is that HTC First is not selling,"
Chowdhry told Benzinga Thursday. "That's number one. When it
comes to hardware devices, it seems that the leaders are Apple
) and Samsung. HTC is probably not a tier one player. If you're a
Facebook user, it seems like you're not gravitating toward HTC
devices because device comes first and application comes second.
It's not the other way around."
One of the challenges HTC faces is that it has a serious image
"People seem to not go with HTC First probably because it does
not have a cool factor that many Facebook users go for," said
Chowdhry. "It seems to me that HTC First is pretty much dead.
Hardware -- that is, devices that are pre-packaged as a Facebook
phone -- probably will not have momentum. But Facebook Home as an
application will probably be successful because people who live
and die on Facebook will probably like it."
Officially, Facebook Home has been downloaded and installed
in the United States. Worldwide, Chowdhry previously estimated
that Facebook Home had been adopted by more than five million
"When we did our research almost three weeks back, more than
80 percent of the phones that had installed and used Facebook
Home were the Samsung Galaxy S III and Samsung Galaxy Note II,"
Even so, Chowdhry does not think that Samsung would have great
success with its own Facebook-branded handset.
"You have to look at how customers are behaving," he said. "It
all depends on what Facebook Home does. If you have a phone,
still making a call is a critical application. Now with the
current version of Facebook Home, you are chatting and talking to
all [these] people. That is cool. But you have to do two steps to
get out of Facebook Home and make a call [or] check your
Chowdhry said that until there is "seamless integration" with
Facebook Home, "where you are chatting with your friends and you
don't have a two-step process to make a call and receive a call,"
the app may not achieve its true potential.
Looking ahead though, Facebook Home should obtain a "very
strong (but very niche) following," Chowdhry added. "The current
version, it seems like it is directionally good -- remember:
Facebook Home is only version one, and they're going to have
"For Samsung, it seems like it does not make sense to be
totally focused on Facebook Home because that is a brand dilution
for Samsung. Samsung has its own user interface experience, which
is different from a typical Android [device]. So I don't think
Samsung will have a Facebook phone."
Louis Bedigian is the Senior Tech Analyst and Features Writer
of Benzinga. You can reach him at 248-636-1322 or
louis(at)benzingapro(dot)com. Follow him
(c) 2013 Benzinga.com. Benzinga does not provide investment
advice. All rights reserved.
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