INQ working on a mass market 'Twitter phone'

Hutchison-owned INQ, makers of the Skype phone and INQ1 – dubbed the Facebook phone – is said to be targeting Twitter next, according to a Reuters report. That’s hardly surprising considering the rise in popularity of the ‘micro-blogging’ site and the large amount of media attention the service has garnered here in the UK, one of the primary markets for the INQ1 via mobile network “3”, which is also a subsidiary of Hutchison.

“This can really help open up and drive Twitter use on mobile when usage becomes part of your data package like on the PC”, Frank Meehan chief executive of INQ tells the news service. One again the proposition to carriers is that a low cost ‘Twitter phone’ would help to drive data usage and retention amongst mass consumers not just those who can afford a traditional ‘smart phone’.

On that note, Marc Allera, director of sales and marketing at 3 UK, tells Reuters that the data usage via social networking services for customers of the INQ1 is three to four times higher than from other phones and is likely on par with Apple’s iPhone, a considerably more expensive device. Sixty five percent of INQ1 users are said to be using Facebook on a regular basis and fifty percent using Windows Live Messenger: “On usual smartphones the Internet experience is in no way close and their price is 3-4 times higher.” Again, I’m not too surprised.

In my recent review of the INQ1 I concluded by saying:

I don’t have any stats to prove it, but I’ve long believed that 90% of mobile phone owners probably only use about 10% of the device’s features. That’s unlikely to be the case with the INQ1, which not only concentrates on three of the most popular web services – Facebook, Skype and Windows Live Messenger – but integrates them in a very practical and intuitive way.

Whether or not Twitter alone warrants its own handset is another matter, and I suspect that any new divice will incorporate additional social networks and other web services as is the case on the existing INQ1, and instead will be largely differentiated by marketing alone and, perhaps, a different form factor. A QWERTY keyboard would be a welcome addition to a INQ Twitter phone, although perhaps I’m just old school. Kids around these parts don’t seem to have any problems conversing via T9 on a traditional number pad.

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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.

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