Today in Tech: Is Verizon dropping contracts?

Also: Mark Zuckerberg on this week’s Facebook Home announcement; HP chairman Ray Lane steps down. 

Verizon CEO Lowell McAdam

Verizon CEO says he’s open to dropping contracts [CNET]

McAdam said it was “pretty easy” to change up the model to eliminate contracts, and added that he would watch the consumer response that T-Mobile gets from its recent decision to drop contracts and phone subsidies altogether. He indicated a willingness to follow suit if consumers start asking for it.

“I’m happy when I see something different tried,” McAdam told reporters on the sidelines of an event to raise awareness for Verizon’s “Powerful Answers” initiative today. “We can react quickly to consumers’ shifting needs.”

Mark Zuckerberg: Why we don’t want to build a phone [FORTUNE]

Fortune: I have to imagine that when Google developed Android as an open platform, they didn’t mean for Facebook to do this.

Zuckerberg: I’m not sure how they’re going to react. We’re building this as software that you can download on to phones. One of the nits about Android is that the software [on each phone model] is a little different, so it took some work to make it work on every given phone. So to start, we are only going to support downloads on five or six phones. I think that Google has this opportunity in the next year or two to start doing the things that are way better than what can be done on iPhone through the openness of their platform. We’d love to offer this on iPhone, and we just can’t today, and we will work with Apple to do the best experience that we can within what they want, but I think that a lot of people who really like Facebook — and just judging from the numbers, people are spending a fifth of their time in phones on Facebook, that’s a lot of people. This could really tip things in that direction. We’ll have to see how it plays out.

HTC and Facebook announce the First smartphone with AT&T, arriving April 12th for $99.99. [THE VERGE]

The First will come in four colors: red, light blue, white, and black. It has a very minimal design, and is said to “not be huge” thanks to its 4.3-inch display, 1280 x 720 pixel Super LCD display. Below the display are three capacitive buttons, and the overall shape is a generic rounded rectangle with cameras on the front and back. It is powered by a dual-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 400 processor clocked at 1.4GHz and paired with 1GB of RAM, making it one of the first phones on the market with this chip. It also has 16GB of internal storage and a 2,000mAh battery. It’s rear camera is a 5-megapixel unit with an f/2.0, 28mm lens, while the front camera is a 1.6-megapixel sensor. The First supports AT&T’s 4G LTE network and will be available April 12th for $99.99. Interested customers are able to pre-order it starting today. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg says that the device will also be released on Orange and EE in Europe, though a release date was not provided.

Ray Lane stepping down as HP chairman [CNNMONEY]

His departure isn’t all that surprising. In a vote held last month, HP reported that 41% of shareholders voted against Lane’s reelection as chairman. … Lane was brought in as chairman of HP after CEO Mark Hurd was unceremoniously ousted in a sex and expense report scandal. Brought in alongside then-new CEO Leo Apotheker, Lane shook up the company’s board, ousting the directors involved in Hurd’s hiring. One of the new directors was eBay CEO Meg Whitman, whom Lane hand-picked, according to Fortune.

T-Mobile says it gained 579,000 customers last quarter [ALL THINGS D]

The company said that its total customer base grew to 34 million in the three-month period, an increase of 579,000. It still lost nearly 200,000 contract customers, though that’s narrower than the 515,000 postpaid defections it saw in the prior quarter.

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