HTC Hopes You “Like” Its Smartphone Status Update: First Product Name Review


Ah, the hearts and purse strings of the mobile masses are so fickle. One minute we’re devoted to one device, the next, twitterpated by another technology. At one point, HTC was the wunderkind of the wireless world, elevating itself from HP and Palm’s behind-the-scenes design manufacturer to brand behemoth.  But recently, they’ve fallen from grace, with profits plunging 98% from a year ago.

Founded in 1997 and named after one of its founders, H.T. Cho, the Taiwanese company slowly built its reputation, focusing on Windows Mobile devices. In 2008, HTC went from lowlight to limelight with the launch of the first Android phone, the HTC Dream. In rapid succession, they launched the high-profile HTC Hero, HTC Desire, and first 4G-capable phone, HTC Evo 4G.

Samsung and Apple are trouncing HTC in sales, largely due to their monstrous marketing budgets. Apple spent $333 million in the US last year, and Samsung forked out $401 million, which has paid off with the runaway success of the Galaxy sub-brand. Perhaps HTC took being “quietly brilliant” too literally, and their measly marketing shows in their reduced revenue.

No doubt HTC hopes to flip things around with the ballyhooed HTC One and the HTC First, more famously and informally known as “the Facebook Phone.” The phone is the first to launch out-of-the-box with Facebook Home, the social network’s new “apperating system,” as Wired calls it. In short, the First phone is the mere vessel for the real showstopper, Facebook’s mobile software Android interface.

From a strict naming point of view, I quite like “First.” It follows the loose HTC naming convention of the master brand, “HTC,” followed by a short, real English word that suggests the benefit or overall experience in some way. The word “first” is rife with positive meaning and makes a statement (Ostensibly, this is the “first” smartphone to carry Facebook’s fledgling software, although it isn’t HTC’s first attempt to make a Facebook-centric phone; anyone remember the HTC Status?). “First” sounds assertive and bold, a clear announcement of supposed importance, but we’ll see whether the phone can deliver on this claim (early reviews are mixed).

The name flows well with its unofficial descriptor, “the Facebook phone” and its signature software, “Facebook Home.” It also pairs well with HTC’s use of alphanumerics to indicate subsequent models, although I’d advise that they clarify their naming conventions because let’s face it, releasing the “One X,” “One S,” “One V,” “One X+,” “One SV,” and then “One” is just baffling. If there are future iterations of this phone, I hope they figure out how to name them clearly; otherwise the simple strength of the word “First” gets muddled.

Overall Grade: A-

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