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Hutchison’s INQ readying challenge to Nokia, Moto & Apple

Business Week has the details.

And oh, what interesting details they are.

INQ, a subsidiary of Hutchison, is going ballistic. On the back of the success of the S2 Skypephones, they’re lining up a big, big market challenge.

“We’re tired of paying a fortune for phones that are unusable,” says Frank Meehan, the chap in charge.

Unusable in the context of the internet.

Many of today’s handsets are simply telephones-without-wires with a bolted on piece-of-shit browser.

Think, for example, of your average Nokia WHAT-APN-WOULD-YOU-LIKE-TO-USE N95.



DO YOU… what, you want to CONNECT again? WHAT access point, please?

No, you’ll need to tell me again. WHAT ACCESS POINT?


In an always-on and always-connected (except when you’re sleeping) environment, today’s handsets certainly don’t cut it. The innovation’s historically been a bit rubbish.

Which is why INQ has most certainly caught my attention. They’re aiming to turn out affordable handsets (think $50 — £25) custom built with web and internet service support.

A case in point:

It has built into its phones new ways to use popular online services such as Facebook, eBay (EBAY), and Skype. For example, the company worked with Facebook so the INQ1 can automatically display on its home screen new photos friends post on their Facebook profiles. “This is the first time we are going to take the experience further than what we have on the iPhone and [BlackBerry],” says Henri Moissinac, manager of Facebook Mobile.

I wonder if we’ll be able to use the Facebook Address Book on the INQ? Now THAT would be cool.

Let’s watch this space intently.


  1. Sorry to be negative. The first skypephone was a piece of junk. Why will these be any better?

    Cheap is good, but you get what you pay for. More or less.

  2. Ha! Haven't used that extensively yet. You could have a point.

    it's legitmate to ask though, will these phones actually be any good, as well as cheap? That does matter.

    SkypePhone has been good for driving profit margin on PAYG — so it was a success from that p.o.v.

  3. A one word tip for Frank Meehan: ANDROID!

    Without it, I confidently predict the INQ line will fail dismally.

  4. It is a fair comment, but I'm encouraged that improving the uisability / internet connectivity is a clear stated objective.

    Could Three be any more brilliant at the moment (apart from the CS)?

  5. Fair enuff. But that's a not a genuine hands-on review written by some one who's used the device everyday for a few weeks — it's a blogger knocking out a quick bit of text after having a poke at it for 20 minutes. I don't think it really the serves the reader.

    Having said that, i''l reserve judgement till i've actually spent a bit of time with the S2.

  6. My worry with these is that once Facebook falls out of favour you're left with a phone that's closely integrated with an outdated social network. I doubt that at such a cheap price they'd be that upgradable.

    Still, as we've seen in recent months, 'Facebook on your mobile' is a strong selling point.

  7. It doesn't necessarily but even if it is upgradable it'd need to be easy to do if your average normob is going to bother. My girlfriend's Samsung has a messed up bluetooth profile but she's not bothered about fixing it because it's such a hassle to upgrade.

    I just think a cheap phone is more about instant gratification than long-term investment.

  8. The Facebook integration is through support of Widgets, there is an option for 2 active widgets on the home screen at a time including RSS feeds, weather, yahoo search or a world clock. I assume, perhaps wrongly that this means they are downloadable to the handset and therefore very user friendly indeed. See Engadget for the photos from which I have made this deduction.

  9. Couldn't agree more, I stopped using my 3G Nokia and started using a 2G iPhone, because not of features and touch-screens (although they are nice!), but for the simple reason, it's easy to be connected, and it seamlessly roams between wifi and the GSM network.

  10. '..a piece of junk?'

    I would disagree strongly with you there – I would rate the Skypephone (1st Generation) as being the most innovative handset of 2007! For the price, H3G managed to pack in a huge amount of functionality. Whilst it does not compare directly with say a Nokia N95-8GB, just remeber that you can buy A DOZEN SkypePhone S1s for the price of ONE N95-8GB!

  11. Find soneone who uses it everyday as their main phone (easier said than done) and then ask what they think of it, and how they rate battery life…. I doubt very much they'll rave about the biz model innovation.

    Generallly, people like having skype for free, but think the device is junky.

  12. If it's not been released yet, who thinks it's “junky”? Are you talking about the S2 (on which T3 et al would disagree with you)?

    Or the handset above, which AFAIK is not yet even with journalists?


  13. Sorry the orignal skypephone. My point is the users like the service, but find the handset underwhelming. Let's see how the new INq ones work out, it could be they're fantastic.

  14. I am just sceptical that INQ will do a better job of making phones than phone manufacturers – especially by focusing on cheapo models. We shall see. Many have tried.

  15. Relative to this discussion I saw this comment from Steve Jobs on cheapo products yesterday.

    “What we want to do is deliver an increasing level of value for customers,” he said. “We don't know how to make a $500 computer that's not a piece of junk, and our DNA won't let us do that.”

    <a href=”;jsessionid=2M4ZZP5XBXCD4QSNDLOSKHSCJUNN2JVN?articleID=211300345″>

  16. As opposed to making a handset full of junk software/apps, and selling it for $500 perhaps?

    Apple could sell their devices for less and still make good margins, but they aren't interested in that fight. They make enough money off the cachet and nice experience their designers create. If you can charge a premium you should. But if your market is price-sensitive you need to meet it.

    The S2 shows that you can make a handset that is quality in both build and UI, for £69.99 unsubsidised.

    Evian water is the same as tap water. Just because tap water is cheap doesn't make it bad, and just because tap water in other countries might be the same cheap price but taste awful, doesn't meen the UK water is inherently inferior.


  17. Very fair point. Getting *good* technology into people's hands at the right price will create a lot of oportunity.

    I personally would like a device with HSPA , a very good browser experience, and largish screen. And that would do me. If someone can make and sell that for cheap, i'm in.


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