The mythical Facebook phone became something of a unicorn in the tech world. The rumors swirled and picked up steam early this year, despite Zuckerberg and co.’s protestations (who can forget the “Um.No,” response the founder gave?). And while we’re not quite ready to give up on the idea that Facebook has zero interest in becoming a more established mobile player, it turns out that dipping its toe in the water might not have gone so well.
TechCrunch claims that a “trusted source close to AT&T” says the HTC Status – aka, the Facebook phone – isn’t long for this world. The carrier wants to get rid of it due to poor sales. The phone has been on the market for about a month, and apparently has failed to make an impression on consumers. Which isn’t all the surprising: When your selling point is a tiny, dedicated-Facebook button, it doesn’t speak well of a device’s market impact. Smartphone consumers want more than that, and the exploding app market means we don’t have to settle for something like this.
We’re not saying that all of the Status’ attributes were doomed. Some of the pre-installed software for Facebook sharing seems like it could have potential. Auto-publishing the music you’re listening to and integrating Facebook info into your contact list are both features that can (and are) going places, but the lacking hardware just doesn’t justify the whole package. It has an antiquated BlackBerry build with a 2.6-inch display. The Status is clearly meant to be an inexpensive alternative, but there are other such options out there to meet this need. They might not include auto-Facebook connectivity, but people know how to do these things without being prompted by a light-up button (side note: What’s with the light-up notifications, HTC?).
And there was that whole renaming matter that likely didn’t help branding. The Status was originally the HTC ChaCha, but search company ChaCha rightfully sued for infringing on its trademark. The rename came fairly late in the game, only about three months before the launch.
For what it’s worth, AT&T has said plans for the phone “to be part of our portfolio haven’t changed,” whatever that means. But our gut tells us it’s not going to become a staple of AT&T’s lineup.