INQ's mass market 'Twitter phone' takes aim at overpriced QWERTY touting smartphones

inq-chat-3gI pretty much had this one pegged. Hutchison-owned INQ have announced the follow up to the award winning INQ1 — dubbed the Facebook phone — with a QWERTY-touting handset that, amongst other things, targets users of Twitter.

The BlackBerry-esque device, called the INQ Chat 3G, pitches a host of messaging capabilities to end users, including ‘push’ email (via Gmail), Facebook access, Instant Messaging through Windows Live Messenger, Skype, and a Twitter client that provides ‘always-on’ connectivity to the micro-messaging social network so that updates are pushed ‘straight to the homescreen’.

“Consumers can send tweets and retweet via the internet rather than using SMS”, boasts the press release.

Once again the pitch to carriers is that the low-cost device will help drive up data usage for users who wouldn’t otherwise purchase a more expensive smartphone.

“We build phones that focus specifically on what people want to do most on mobile, and deliver it at a price point that’s easy for consumers and profitable for operators”, said Frank Meehan, INQ’s CEO, in a canned statement. “We have completely broken the vice grip hold that high end smartphones had on great mobile internet experiences, and made them available to everybody.”

On the choice of a QWERTY keyboard, Meehan adds:

“With the INQ Chat 3G, we’ve reinvented the qwerty for consumers by creating a fantastic social mobile. With the INQ1, we were blown away by how much consumers were writing just using the standard 12 keys –  30% of them were regularly sending emails. So we know that a keypad will go down a storm.”

The company’s hyperbole aside, I think Meehan could be right on the money. The INQ Chat 3G, even if it’s only offered on carrier 3, another Hutchison subsidiary, will sell very well. It addresses two demands: A low cost QWERTY device. And one that offers the key applications of Facebook, Twitter, IM, Skype and push email. It may not have ‘an app for everything’ like the much more expensive iPhone, but in providing those five app/features alone, the Chat 3G has the main bases covered, and at a fraction of the cost. It’s also a pretty slick looking phone too.

Price-wise, beyond low cost, INQ isn’t saying yet, although it’s worth noting that the device also features GPS and 3,2 megapixel camera (but still no WiFi), so it’s likely to work out more expensive than the original INQ1 released late last year.

Oh and the INQ Chat 3G has another trick up its sleeve – iTunes syncing on a Mac and PC. Interestingly, this comes courtesy of DVD Jon’s DoubleTwist software not an official Apple partnership.

On the same day, INQ also announced a new candy bar ‘social mobile’ dubbed the INQ Mini 3G.

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last100 is edited by Steve O'Hear. Aside from founding last100, Steve is co-founder and CEO of Beepl and a freelance journalist who has written for numerous publications, including TechCrunch, The Guardian, ZDNet, ReadWriteWeb and Macworld, and also wrote and directed the Silicon Valley documentary, In Search of the Valley. See his full profile and disclosure of his industry affiliations.

2 Responses to “INQ's mass market 'Twitter phone' takes aim at overpriced QWERTY touting smartphones”

  1. Daniel says:

    Wow this looks like a good move. Though INQ should be preparing for the wave of low cost android phones that will come sometime in the future.

  2. Steve O'Hear says:

    That's a fair point Daniel but so far Android phones in the US and Europe aren't gunning for the low end. In fact the kind of custom UI work that HTC, SE and others are doing probably requires faster more expensive chips and more on-board memory. “Sometime in the future” is right but when is the question. While the iPhone remains exclusive, Android phones seem to be attacking that space to fill the gap on non-iPhone carriers.