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"Facebook Phone" going for 99 cents

Posting in Energy

"Facebook phones! Get your Facebook phones here!"

Facebook is valued at over $65 billion.

But you wouldn't know that from the price of a so-called "Facebook Phone," which AT&T is now selling for 99 cents, CNET reports.

Yes "cents," not "dollars." It's been less than a month since AT&T began offering the phone, also known as the HTC First, and the decimal point has already shifted two digits to the left, from $99 on April 12. In case you were doubting the existence of gravity, doubt no more. Believe in free fall!

The HTC First has a home screen and a lock screen that CNET describes as Facebook-only zones. "The dramatically reduced price point seems to confirm our earlier suspicions that Facebook wasn't proving to be much of a sales pitch," CNET writes. It notes that Facebook will have a "seemingly impossible" time selling the concept to other phone makers.

But Slate and Mashable have a different take. Slate writes:

Remember, though, the “Facebook phone” was never meant to be a high-end device. Facebook’s goal has always been to get as many people as possible spending as much time as possible on the social network. If that means selling phones for 99 cents, it’s no skin off Menlo Park’s nose. Indeed, as Mashable’s Lance Ulanoff pointed out, Facebook is touting the sale price on its own news feed with the tag line, “The best Facebook mobile experience just got better.”

The razor and razor blade strategy strikes again. Give away the meat, sell the potatoes, which in Facebooks's case could be advertising, including new fangled ads that promote other company apps.

As Reuters reported last week, Facebook tallied first quarter profits of $219 million on sales of $1.46 billion, when CEO Mark Zuckerberg said that mobile advertising could provide meaningful financial growth.

"We're starting to see real revenue from mobile app installs," Zuckerberg said. "It's one of our most important new ad products."

Available now through the AT&T 99 cent store.

Photo from Thankstelfair via Wikimedia

More mobile selling, behavior and Facebook on SmartPlanet:

— By on May 8, 2013, 11:07 PM PST

Mark Halper

Contributing Editor

Mark Halper has written for TIME, Fortune, Financial Times, the UK's Independent on Sunday, Forbes, New York Times, Wired, Variety and The Guardian. He is based in Bristol, U.K. Follow him on Twitter. Disclosure