Report: AT&T dropping first 'Facebook phone'

It looks like the HTC First is about to be put out of its misery: According to a report, AT&T, the only carrier that offers the first official “Facebook phone,” is dropping the device.

AT&T will discontinue carrying the First after its in-store promotional contract with HTC expires, according to BGR, a blog that focuses on the wireless industry. A recent markdown of the phone to 99 cents from $100 represents the company’s effort to clear inventory, BGR reported.

Responding to an inquiry about the First, an AT&T representative said in a statement, “We have made no decisions about future plans.”

Facebook referred a request for comment to AT&T. HTC declined to comment “on rumors and speculation.”

 AT&T’s apparent move comes after it had sold fewer than 15,000 First phones nationwide through last week, according to BGR. The company’s sales representatives don’t like Home or the First and are doing little to push the phone, the blog reported.

The first phone to come with Facebook’s new Home interface pre-installed, the First debuted to much fanfare last month. But things have gone downhill ever since.

First came news that downloads of the Home software were modest and consumer reviews of it were poor. Then last week, AT&T cut the up-front price on the phone, which many observers took as a sign of poor sales.

According to Google’s Play store, the Facebook Home software at the heart of the First has been downloaded between 1 million and 5 million times, although the number of downloads fell off dramatically after its first week or so. The nearly 17,000 people who have reviewed the software have given it an average rating of a two out of five stars.

When I tested Home on the HTC First last month, I was unimpressed, finding it both a distraction from other apps and that it offered users fewer ways to customize their Facebook experience that they’d actually want.

In Facebook’s earnings call earlier this month, CEO Mark Zuckerberg said he was proud of Home and that the company would keep working to improve it. In an interview with the Mercury News last month, Facebook Director of Product Adam Mosseri laid out some of the future features on the Facebook Home roadmap.

Photo by Gary Reyes, Mercury News Staff Photographer.

Troy Wolverton Troy Wolverton (280 Posts)

Troy writes the Tech Files column as the Personal Technology Columnist at the San Jose Mercury News. He also covers the digital media, mobile and video game industries and writes occasionally about Apple, chips, social networking and other aspects of technology. Previously, Troy covered Apple and the consumer electronics industry. Prior to joining the Mercury News, Troy reported on technology, business and financial issues for TheStreet.com and CNET News.com.