Android Central

The HTC First is the second big-name phone in just weeks for a company struggling to sell a single message​

First, there was the HTC One. Now, second, if you will -- secondarily, perhaps -- there is the HTC First.

In our little blogging world here, cries of "First!" are all too common among commenters looking to make a name for themselves by being the first to spam the comments. So you can forgive us if the name itself immediately leaves a bad taste in our mouths.

When the design of the phone as well as its name leaked the day before Facebook's event, you couldn't help but wonder. "First" what? First Facebook phone? Are we stating the obvious? Or is that alliteration gone bad?

It was AT&T's Ralph de la Vega who probably said it best: "The first Facebook Home-optimized phone in the world."

And I worry that it has HTC's name on it at all.

That's not to say HTC doesn't need to strut its stuff. Quite the contrary. See, in another life -- about a decade ago -- HTC was a nameless ODM. A company that made products for other companies to brand and sell. The Palm Treo 750 that got me into this business? Guess who made that. HTC.

Starting around the time of the Windows Mobile-powered Touch Diamond, HTC began to assert its own branding. A (thankfully) skinned version of Microsoft's ancient embedded OS. Eventually, the "Quietly Brilliant" branding emerged, and it's a moniker that I still believe very much fits the company. But the meek shall not inherit the smartphone Earth. Samsung has seen to that. Apple has seen to that. And, indeed, it's time for HTC to change.

HTC in the Wall Street Journal

HTC was was supposed to reinvent itself with the HTC One line a year ago. It didn't. Instead, we got a muddied message that didn't live up to the worth of the product. Now we have a new HTC One, easily argued as one of the best Android smartphones we've ever seen, with the promise of a major marketing campaign. I'm told that should start any day now -- anyone catch the full-page ad in the back of the Wall Street Journal's A section on Thursday? "Time after time, HTC has been first," it reads, with a time line of achievements running all six columns, the whole way down. (It was a good ad, I think, though. More about the HTC brand than any one device.)

And still I'm torn over the HTC First. Never mind that confusing smartphone name. We're used to those. But "HTC First" is simply too close to "HTC One." The circles don't really overlap -- they're two very different products -- but they're too close in name to be a good thing for HTC. The last thing needed by a company struggling to rebuild from a number of dismal financial quarters is more brand confusion, and that's what we've got here.

Imagine walking into an AT&T store on April 12. It's going to be Abbott and Costello.

"I want that new HTC phone."

"Which one?"

"The new one."

"The HTC One?"

"I don't know. The Facebook one."

"Oh. The HTC First."

"No, the one with Facebook."

That's if the word "HTC" is uttered by the potential customer at all. More likely, it'll go something like this:

"I want that new Facebook phone."

"OK."

And "HTC" may never enter the conversation. Point is, the same day the HTC One goes up for preorder on HTC -- and seven days before it's made available -- the HTC One, the phone the company's putting so much time and muscle and money behind -- sees the conversation switch to Facebook, and a mid-level phone with a funny name and a new way of doing things.

On the other hand, maybe it's much ado about nothing. HTC's in trying to rebuild its own brand has aligned itself with one of the largest and most important on the planet. So who cares if it's One or First, so long as you spell HTC right.

 

Reader comments

Being 'First' may be a bad thing for HTC

65 Comments

Should of been called the HTC "Meh"

I'm guessing in a couple weeks the First will go from $99 on contract to free on contract.

And to quote another: And you know what you get for free. Then it will be relegated to a PAYG status, and be counted amongst AT&T's refurb mobiles.

How does this surprise you? It is the way tech gadgets, computers, and electronics have gone for years. What's new and shiny today is average tomorrow.

With a STATE of the ART Qualcomm DUAL CORE chipset, to boot! Its not "mid range" at all. This whole thing w/ Quad & Octa cores is bullshit. Android as it stands now can only use two at a time, IF that, since most apps are NOT native & are ports. Even the OS doesn't use Quad Core.

Its just people on the internet making crap up.

I agree w/ the OP, obviously as this is a HIGH END device, whether you like or care for Faceboook is another question.

Spend a few weeks with a Galaxy Note 2 and you'll see really quickly that quad core is far from "bullshit".

Compared to the US variant of the S3, which rocks a dual core, the GN2 is smooth as hell.

I have to agree with @SoCalBIGmike on this. There are dual core phones that are better performers than quads. It's how the system works overall that matters as far as performance, not just the number of cores.

720p isn't mid range, 1080p isn't really needed on screens up to 4.7" don't notice any pixels on my Nexus 4. Classification of a device comes down to nearly all the components in a phone, it's a shame the media portrays devices in this way, that because a phone doesn't have the LATEST specs it isn't a high end device.

I see the naming issues and I have always thought HTC needs to redo the way they name their phones. But if people do go to stores and ask to buy the "Facebook Phone" whether they know it is made my HTC or not HTC still wins because people are buying it. Whether or not people actually do we shall see. I hope HTC the best but I don't think this is going to solve their financial troubles, though I hope it helps.

I have to say, this phone does absolutely nothing for me. Personally, I can't see why anyone would want to be that connected to Facebook at all times. That said, I'm not 14 years old, so maybe I'm not the target market. And what about widgets for other apps? Can they not be used with this launcher? Didn't really see any in the bits of the presentation that I watched. I can't see people buying a phone that doesn't allow you to use widgets that you have grown accustomed to using over the years.

I used to be a big HTC supporter, back in the original EVO 4G days. They have really hurt themselves by not being timely with their Android updates. I still think they make some nice hardware, though. For their sake, I hope the HTC First won't be known as the HTC Flop a year from now...

I would imagine that the HTC First is not targeted at most of the people on this site, but I believe there is likely a market out there. How big, I don't know.

Take my ex-gf, for example: all she ever did on her phone was text message, Facebook, Instagram, and occasionally watch videos on the G4TV app. For her, the First might be the perfect phone.

Yeah if all my woman ever did with her phone was those things then she'd be an "ex" real quick too.

Women...

Wow, dude. Really? I'm a computer/tech nerd from way back and even I understand that value of a good woman without regard to how tech-savy she is or what all she uses her phone to do.

As long as the woman understands me and we click well, bugger what she uses her phone for. Even though the lass I am going to most likely be with has a Nokia Lumia 920 (like me). Your comment made me want to facepalm so hard my head went through the flipping wall.

I teach 14 year olds. I've been told Facebook passé. They might beg their parents for an Instagram phone, though they're afraid that will be passé soon too :).

HTC Share maybe. Or Facebook could have gotten another company to do the phone. An LG or a Kyocera. But, with those two, the phone might not sell too great. Perhaps HTC is up there as a company that needs to just make some phones to sell. And maybe the First will do that in the midrange for HTC. It could turn out to be a win. But I am not sure. Maybe they felt the Status failed because it was a qwerty, small screen. Could definitely be issues. We saw how long it took RIM/Blackberry to have touch, candybar form factor phones available on more than one carrier, and that probably cost them dearly. The form factor, having a cheap on contract price and good marketing 'could' make the First a good sell for HTC.

I can see where there would be some momentary confusion, but I don't think that it will add to HTC recent woes. If the phone does well, it gets HTC's into the hands of young people (damnit saying that makes me feel old) which does help build brand recognition and loyalty. Obviously, if this does worse than FB or HTC expects, HTC is really the only loser here.

I'm hoping to see some real marketing efforts from HTC around the One which will make the First as an 'also ran' rather than a mistake.

The Facebook app for Android has so many bugs that I can't believe they can make a whole launcher without bugs. I see Facebook Home crashing every 5 minutes 2 months after having the phone if not sooner or right away.. and updates may or may not work. It may render the phone unuseable.. HTC phones have their own set of bugs in their phones and Sense. I see a potentially big problem. I really hope they were on their P's & Q's with this one.

another flagship phone? wasn't ONE supposed to be their flagship phone? Even before the release for ONE, they announce this POS. Now, people are gonna talk about this POS and forget about ONE. No wonder they don't make any profits. They are just clueless. Some people never learn..

Sure it could be a bad thing I see your point.? But I am thinking two things HTC needs the money and I think FaceBook had more to do with the naming them HTC I think the next Facebook Home phone will be Second.

They have a lot of options still: aboriginal, ahead, antecedent, anterior, basic, beginning, cardinal, early, elementary, first off, front, fundamental, head, headmost, in the beginning, inaugural, inceptive, incipient, initial, introductory, key, lead off, leading, least, number one, numero uno, opening, original, pioneer, premier, primary, prime, primeval, primitive, primogenial, primordial, pristine, right up front, rudimentary

I think the HTC First will sell well on ATT. It will be like the original two Sidekicks on T-Mobile back in the day it will sell well to all the kids and women that are Facebook addicts. While obviously the One will be for the tech geeks.

I dont really see this as being a huge seller. The Facebook App is on Android, Blackberry, and IOS devices, so people can check Facebook, upload a photo, like a post on ANY smartphone. I just dont see kids running out to get the "Facebook Phone," and frankly GET A LIFE. Seriously if your world revolves that much around Facebook that you need it that deeply integraded into your life you have issues. And I can only imagine how much data the thing will be pulling to show all those photos and updates.

The App itself I get, but why launch a specific phone for it when in a matter of weeks it will be available for download in the Playstore, doesnt that defeat the need for the phone?

Whats next the HTC Sling Shot ft. Angry Birds...........

Why the FBhone? Because you can't hook into system notifications and other attributes with just a launcher replacement. I'm surprised, though, that it didn't have at least a dedicated, capacitive "Like" button on the bottom row. ,:}

Because a double tap on the screen means you don't even have to move your thumb down to the bottom row :)

I agree with this article. Look at Google, they first chose HTC (Nexus One), then Samsung (Nexus S, Galaxy Nexus), then LG (Nexus 4) and now Motorola. They didn't stick to a simple company, and they didn't use the company's name on the phone. If Facebook had done something similar, like naming the phone to "FacePhone" (LOL I couldn't come with something better xD) or whatever, people wouldn't mind if it is HTC or not, and they wouldn't get confused with the HTC One. As a result, HTC wouldn't lose marketing for the One.

Last I heard LG was rumored to be making the next Nexus again. The Motorola X phone is not a Nexus it will not be running stock android.

Yeah, it is a bit of a concern. Their naming practices are suspect.

However, I hope they sell a shit load of the facebook phones. They need the help and since I just ordered a One I don't want the company going belly up. The Facebook tie in may be what they need to get noticed in the market with something other than the real One.

Phil I get where you're going with this, but the First is not going to be marketed as an HTC device. It will be marketed as the Facebook phone. The branding on the back proves that. In this situation, HTC is going back (at least halfway) to its ODM roots, and producing the phone for Facebook based on what Facebook wanted. Other than that, this isn't an HTC device in the same vein as the One.

Opening day at AT&T
Guy: I want one first and my buddy behind me want’s the first one
Clerk: So you want the first first or you want the first one.
Guy: I just want one first I don’t care if it’s the first one just give it to me first. Then you can give my buddy one one.
Clerk: Well I think your buddy was here first so I am going to give him the one first and then I’ll give you one first.
Guy: He doesn’t care as long as he gets one one you can give me the first first.

More like they walk past the One and First and say "Do you have the new Samsung Galaxy S4?" For better or worse.

Wow, you thought WAY to hard on this Phil.. I think it's time to step away from the keyboard for awhile, lol.

It's because people who post 'first' in comments sections have the same mentality and tiny brain capacity of those who use facebook, so it's a perfect match.

I'm sure the Verizon Droid Swag is coming soon.

So the joke continues....

C: "I want that new HTC phone."

S: "Which one?"

C: "The new one."

S: "The HTC One?"

C: "I don't know. The Facebook one."

S: "Oh. The HTC First."

C: "No, the one with Facebook."

S: "OK, I bring HTC One, first."

C: "OK, as long it has Facebook."

S: "Yes, off course you can install Facebook in it"

C: "Why? Isn't it a Facebook phone?"

S: "I see, you want HTC First then."

C: "Off course HTC comes first, isn't it a Top brand?"

S: "OMG! What I mean is there are 2 phones , HTC One, and HTC First. Both have Facebook in it. But First using Facebook UI.

C: "Ok I choose the first one.. HTC One."

S: "(sigh) , Ok I bring both of them to you...."

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