HTC First: Has Facebook Missed India As An Important Destination For its First Phone Release?

By: Anuj Bhatia

The long wait is over, as Facebook Home finally gets special mention at a special event, organized by Mark Zuckerberg, at his California -based HQ. The first batch of hardware in the form of HTC First was also revealed at the same event. The HTC First is first-gen handset that supports Facebook Home.

The story not ends here as world's leading handset vendors have signed for Facebook Home program. Sony, Samsung, Lenovo, Alcatel, Huawei, and ZTE are select hardware partners that are planning to announce their respective devices based on Facebook Home in near future.

HTC First: Has Facebook Missed India As An Important Destination For i

Click Here for Facebook Phone Concept Images

Talking about the HTC First; it's a first hardware device (an exclusive to AT&T) that puts Facebook Home right at the centre. The folks over at HTC had an opportunity to work with Facebook on HTC Cha Cha, and Salsa, few years ago. This time around, their new relationship is deeply rooted, and more social in nature by announcing socially relevant - HTC First. The device has built in a 4.3-inch display with resolution of 1280 x 720 pixels, 1.4-GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 400 dual -core processor, 1GB of RAM, 16GB of internal storage, a 5-mega pixel rear camera, 1.3-mega pixel front facing camera, 4G LTE and finally 2000mAh battery. Going by the above specification, the hardware is decent enough, but not great. Mushroomed UI has an upper hand, and it makes sense also. The handset will arrive in other major European territories, but no release date has been announced so far.

Understanding Facebook Home

After much hype, and crazy information leaks, finally, Facebook Home appeared in front of us. In simple language - it is an Android launcher that will replace your standard Jelly Bean UI with Facebook Home. Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook communicated that "Facebook Home is designed around people, not apps ". It can work on any Android handset. The new software UI (via Facebook Home) brings simplicity at first sight. Now more cranky widgets, when you open your handset.

Basically, Home includes number of Facebook apps under one roof. For instance - Coverfeed is designed to change existing homescreen and lock screen with dash of social content, without even opening the handset. The app supports advertisements. Another important feature that is quite interesting is the app called "Chat heads" - It will basically change the way you send messages to someone on FB. Yes! It works with SMS and Facebook messaging service.

Have a tab on your friend's profile picture, and chat window appears. It even shows how many texts you have missed in-between. Once again, the Home uses swiping, supports gestures, and tapping, as its main in-built attractions. The Home service will be rolled out for tablets as well, but after some time. The app can be downloaded from Play Store from April 12 onwards.

Want to known the first batch of devices getting dose of Facebook Home?

HTC One;

HTC One X;

Samsung Galaxy S4;

Samsung Galaxy S3;

Samsung Galaxy Note 2; and

(HTC First) - Actions start from April 12, 2013.

Is Facebook Home coming to your iPhone?

No, it is currently works on Android devices. In an interview given by Mark Zuckerberg to Wired magazine, Mr. Zuckerberg said that "We have a pretty good partnership with Apple, but they want to own the whole experience themselves," When asked whether Home is coming to iOS in two years time. "Look, I would love for that answer to be yes," adding, "a lot of people love iPhones-I love mine, and I would like to be able to deliver Facebook Home there as well."

Do you need to update Facebook Home as well?

Interestingly, Home will be updated 12 times a year, once a month. So, it is even simpler to update.

Has HTC Missed India As An Important Destination For HTC First ?

Currently, HTC First will only be available in US via carrier provider AT&T, who will carry the device for just $99.99 (Rs. 5,400), starting April 12, 2013.

Right now the first impression of the handset is being described as average hooker by some analysts. The handset flaunts average specifications, and it would add no magic to the falling sales of HTC devices.

For a big market like US, neither Facebook nor the HTC First, seems relevant. There high-end devices have been a norm leaving a mediocre handset like HTC First, a dull beast by all standards. Surely, the HTC First is not near to recently released HTC One, a premium handset with chic UltraPixel technology, and latest Quad-Core processor fitted inside.

HTC, who has been lacking acquired marketing skills, and on the top of it not selling HTC First in the Indian market, which should be seen as a poor move technically. In a country like India, it is hard to sell a high-end Android handset that carries sticker price of Rs.45,000. HTC must have learnt from its past mistakes by announcing the HTC Butterfly at Rs. 46,000.

But there no hassles to sell a device costing Rs.15,000. The marketing team should learn from Micromax and other India based tech vendors. Why Facebook and HTC chose developed world to push HTC First? India is home to 71 million active Facebook users, as per one estimate.

Most of the consumers tune to Facebook via their mobile phones. Here feature phone rules, and players like Nokia now focusing their energies by announcing very cheap color phones. It perfectly makes sense to push affordable ‘ connected devices ‘ along with right service.

As more and more consumers are accessing internet via their smartphones; it is a win-win situation for social networking sites like Facebook in the near future. And it should also increases the confidence of advertisers in online medium especially Facebook. Google is pushing hard by making Android an obvious choice to start social life. Eric Schmidt, Executive Vice President , Google , recently wished to see Rs. 2,500 priced Android smartphone.

As the Android powered handset gets cheaper; it not only increases visibility of Google as search giant, but also elevates internet culture in general.

Hence, Facebook could have announce HTC First for emerging markets. The experience can be ported to west after a period of time. It would not only benefited Facebook, as a social networking site, but also paved way for struggling handset manufacturer - HTC, who need enough capital to get cracking in the next-gen handsets.

HTC currently has the weakest product lineup, as far as competition is concerned. By announcing the HTC First, the tech vendor has captured an important destination which Apple can't even ignore at this crucial hour. Not a single Indian carrier was mentioned at Facebook Home event. It is to be seen how whether HTC has any plans to announce HTC First in the Indian market. The future is looking bleak for HTC , at least in India. Stay tuned to GizBot.

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