Following up on its first INQ handset, INQ Mobile is introducing two new 3G “social mobiles” with easy access to Twitter. The phones are expected to hit the market in the fourth quarter.
The INQ Chat 3G is the company’s first qwerty-style phone and sports a new e-mail client developed by INQ that incorporates free push Gmail. The INQ Mini provides an entry-level social mobile phone geared for the prepaid market.
INQ, which is based in London but recently opened an office in the San Francisco area, worked closely with the Twitter team to develop the phones, says Jeff Taylor, director of marketing and strategy at INQ. “Our application was built into the heart of the phone,” he says. While others say their devices run Twitter, the user has to do something every time to get into the app. With INQ, “the user doesn’t have to do anything,” he says. “We built a completely different platform.”
After the initial log in, Twitter will be “always on.” Consumers can send tweets and retweet via the Internet rather than using SMS. With the INQ Chat, a specially designed Twitter widget will deliver Twitter updates straight to the home screen.
The company is not ready to announce any carriers that will be selling the phones but Taylor says the first non-Hutchison Whampoa network is expected to launch a device sometime in the relatively near future. INQ Mobile is owned by Hutchison, and its first device has been distributed in Europe, Hong Kong and Australia.
No U.S. operators are signed on, but conversations are advancing and the company is hopeful about getting a U.S. carrier on board.
Both phones have plug-and-play HSDPA modems enabling high-speed wireless
broadband on PCs and Macs and music sync capabilities. The phones also have access to Facebook, Skype and instant messaging.
The company says 65 percent of existing INQ device owners use Facebook regularly; 30 percent use their INQ frequently for e-mail; and Windows Live Messenger activity is three to four times greater than on comparably priced 3G phones.
Pricing for the two new phones isn’t available because that will be up to its carrier customer(s), but the expectation is the phones will cost carriers less than $200 each.