INQ Unveils Facebook-Focused Phones

by Matt Klassen on February 11, 2011

Over the past few months rumours have been swirling around the tech and telecom blogosphere that Facebook is secretly creating a social networking specific Facebook phone. While the company itself has denied any and all rumours regarding such a phone, two Facebook-oriented phones released in the UK this week may give us some indication of what Facebook’s future foray into the mobile market might look like.

London-based mobile phone manufacturer INQ Mobile unveiled two social networking phones, a project undertaken in close partnership with Facebook, dubbed the INQ Cloud Touch and the INQ Cloud Q.  Both phones feature heavy Facebook integration, meaning that the social networking site plays into even the basic functionality of the devices, providing users with unprecedented mobile connectivity to the world’s favourite social networking site.

But will these phones, or any future Facebook phones, see any real market success? If one thing has been demonstrably evident over the past few years its that smartphone users shy away from feature phones, phones that do one thing well but really offer nothing else. With past failures like Microsoft’s Kin still fresh in our collective mobile memories, will INQ’s two Facebook phones find success where so many others have only found failure?

There’s little question that the two INQ Facebook-oriented smartphones are built for people who utilize Facebook as their primary means of communication, a.k.a. teenage girls. Further, there’s little question that for many Facebook comprises the entirety of their online existence, as it provides them with connections with friends, timely updates, simple and addictive games, instant communication, and easy-to-use photo sharing; it truly is a one stop shop for one’s social networking needs.

The phones themselves are unabashedly Facebook-centric, offering users a home screen that comes equipped with a dedicated Facebook feed to see status updates, pictures, video links and one-touch links to Facebook Chat, Friends, Messages, Wall, and Notifications. Simply put, if you find yourselves always on Facebook and need a phone that makes it easier to connect with friends on the social networking site, either the Cloud Touch or the Cloud Q may be for you.

But here’s the thing, is there enough of a Facebook-only user base out there to maintain the ongoing profitability of such a narrowly focused phone? Sure the general base of smartphone users want access to Facebook on their mobile devices, but with users demanding more and more out of their smartphones, who, other than teenagers perhaps, really wants a phone that sports such deep Facebook integration?

While there’s no word on whether or not the INQ Facebook phones will be released in North America, there’s little doubt in my mind that when Facebook unveils its own phone, and I’m sure it will sometime this year, that it will look a great deal like what INQ has produced. I just have to wonder if anyone is going to buy it.

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