AT&T Mobility CEO Ralph de la Vega has told CNET that the carrier has sold all of its HTC First Facebook phones. While he declined to say exactly how many phones AT&T has sold, our sources revealed the phone was "disastrous" for HTC, and plans for a UK launch were scrapped last month. In response to poor sales, AT&T dropped the price of the First from $99 to $0.99, and according to de la Vega, the carrier has now cleared its inventory — the Facebook phone experiment is over.
Will Facebook go it alone like Apple?
Facebook's first foray into smartphones may not be for nothing. CNET quotes de la Vega comparing the HTC First to Motorola's "iTunes phone," the ROKR. Announced in September 2005, 16 months before Apple announced the iPhone, the ROKR is remembered by most as a tepid product that led the way for future success. Following an unsuccessful launch, Steve Jobs famously told his iPod team that he was "sick of dealing with these stupid companies like Motorola... Let's do it ourselves." Although the HTC First doesn't seem likely to go on sale again, Facebook will continue to offer its Home launcher for other Android phones, and appears focused on improving the experience before considering a return with another Facebook-focused smartphone.
Just as AT&T was the only carrier to sell the HTC First, it was also the sole US carrier to sell the original ROKR. De la Vega believes his company's early faith in Apple helped it get "the inside track" on the iPhone. "We have a great relationship with Apple just like we have a great relationship with Facebook," de la Vega says, "we look forward to working with them to make Home better."