The INQ¹; social networking phone, always on, always Qualcomm

by Guy J Kewney | posted on 13 November 2008

When it ships in mid-December (hopefully) the INQ¹ facebook phone will be available to pay-as-you-go users for an outright purchase price of £79.99 - with internet packages available from £5 per month. Go for an 18 month contract, and you can get it free for £15 per month.

That deal will offer unlimited free Facebook, Skype, Windows Live Messenger and web access, plus 75 minutes of calls to other networks, unlimited texts, unlimited email and unlimited free 3-to-3 calls. £20 will get you all of the above but with 200 minutes of
calls to other networks.

The trick comes in two packages. First, the undoubtedly clever design work by the small INQ team of designers, supported by Amoy software engineers and "3" market intelligence - but also, much to the dismay of European watchers, the Qualcomm 3G platform with BREW as the operating system.

The unpopularity of Qualcomm in Europe is hard to exaggerate, and it comes as no surprise that the San Diego company has been "very helpful indeed" to INQ in getting the original Skypephone and the INQ¹ off the ground.

In exchange, INQ directors were fulsome in their praise of the platform. "The bill of materials is mostly affected by the operating system," said one software designer at the launch in London. "It's not just the fee; it's all the other things that come with it."

For example, he said, "If you go for Windows Mobile, it's big. You have something very like Windows, which is big. But you also have to have support for touch screens, and other hardware. It all adds up."

The choice of Qualcomm wasn't solely because of the price, however. What 3 UK wanted, according to CEO Kevin Russell (picture above, right) was something "always on, always multi-tasking" so that users didn't drop out of their Windows Live experience when a call came in, or when a Skype IM was received, or an email flagged up.

Russell said he was very much open to seeing other operators pick the INQ¹ as an Internet platform. "The more people adopt it, the faster this sector will open up," he said.

See also The Facebook phone

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