The Failure of the Facebook Phone


Before Facebook became dedicated to VR so much that their company name was changed (more on that story for another time), it was the unmistakable, unshakable social media giant. Facebook dominated the Internet for a good portion of the late ‘00s and early ‘10s, and became a place where everyone could connect and stay updated with their friends and loved ones. In 2013, with smartphones slowly becoming the norm, Facebook sought out to capture everyone’s minds once again by entering this highly lucrative market. However, in doing so, it may have bitten off more than it could chew.

While it was not as prevalent as Apple’s iPhones or Samsung’s Galaxy Phones, HTC still had a catalog of a respectable caliber. In 2011, the company was valued at around 3.6 billion dollars. The release of the HTC One’s second series of phones exceeded the sales of the first and gained critical acclaim. A partnership between them and Facebook seemed like a no-brainer, with both parties having nothing to lose and everything to gain. With that in mind, 

Two low-end units were used as the testing grounds for such a concept. These were the HTC Status and the HTC Salsa. These devices proved well enough for the partnership to continue and go all the way with, and so two years after, the HTC First – better known as the Facebook Phone – was unveiled. 

Simply put, it did not go over well with consumers. 

The Facebook Phone was not only a lackluster mid-range phone (chief negative being its awful camera), it also undersold beyond expectations, too. Under the carriership of AT&T, the Facebook Phone only sold around 15,000 units. Because of this, the price of the device was lowered from a respectable $99.99 to a measly 0.99. This sequence of events led to the Facebook Phone being named as one of tech’s biggest failures of 2013 in several print and online publications. 

Four years after this disaster, HTC was sold to Google and Facebook has now rebranded into Meta, with an all-out, company-wide focus on the metaverse. However, for their sake, it’s best that they learn from firing one’s shots too early – as they did with the Facebook Phone – to avoid having a repeat when it comes to its Meta line of virtual reality headsets.

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