It wasn’t all that long ago when tech media pundits were falling all over themselves about Facebook Home and the HTC First smartphone. “Apple is doomed,” they cried. The handwriting was on the wall, they said, “Apple needs Facebook Home to survive the coming onslaught of Facebook users moving to a Facebook-centric smartphone.”
Remember the PC netbook? Apple and the Mac were supposedly doomed to niche status because the inexpensive netbook would rule the PC world. Try finding a netbook in any store, or someone carrying around a netbook. Apple avoided the temptation to get all trendy and join the fad and the result is that Apple’s Mac division is more profitable than the next five Windows PC makers. Combined.
So it is with Facebook Home. AT&T just cut the price of the first Facebook Home phone, the HTC First, from $99.99 to a plain old 99 cents.
That’s 99-cents. As in a penny less than a dollar. A single dollar.
Reuters has all the details, but the handwriting on the wall could not be more obvious. Facebook Home has been met with a big yawn by Facebook’s supposedly one billion users.
To be fair about this, cutting the price of a new smartphone isn’t all that unusual, even for AT&T, and even for an Android OS-based smartphone. Doing so a few weeks after launch should raise a few eyebrows, however, even Apple dropped the iPhone’s original price a few months after launch as demand began to match supply.
This is yet another black eye for Facebook and Google’s Android as it represents the failure of yet another marketing gimmick to topple the iPhone from the profitability perch.
What’s wrong with Facebook Home? Facebook Fatigue. Bernhard Warner in Bloomberg points out that teenagers are growing tired of Facebook.
A similar decline in Facebook usage has been reported in North America, Europe, and elsewhere.
It may be too early to condemn Facebook as a fad, but Facebook Home clearly has yet to meet up with expectations, and represents yet another example of Apple’s famed discipline– avoiding the faddish trends.
That brings up an interesting point about phablets— tablet sized smartphones. While larger smartphones represent a small portion of all smartphones sold, they’ve become more visible in recent months. Is it a fad or the future? Will Apple succumb to the phenomenon or stay the course? Or, just eliminate it altogether by putting a phone in the iPad mini?