10/17/2008 11:36:00 AM
3 parent company Hutchison launches handset manufacturer 'Inq'
3’s parent company Hutchison Whampoa has launched a new handset manufacturing company called ‘Inq’, and will put its first phone on 3 next month, Mobiletoday can reveal.
The stand alone company was created using work carried out by 3’s group handset team to conceive and develop the Skypephone. Inq is understood to have between five and six handsets in the pipeline for its first 12 months. The new company has total ownership of the hardware, user interface and brand.
All the handsets are based on data services, with instant messaging (IM), mobile email, Facebook and Skype calling the key features.
The first handset is expected to be priced between £50 and £80 after subsidy, with the entire range believed to be pitched as mass market phones with a clear focus on data services.
Inq (pronounced ‘ink’ and a contraction of ‘inquire’) will focus on fast and simple access to data services from the handset.
3 will bring the first Inq handset into its own stores in time for the run-up to Christmas and will play a part in the prepay market – an area it has avoided in recent years.
Hutchison is using the Inq brand to penetrate emerging markets and will look to sell the handsets to operators around the world, as well as to its own businesses. Hutchison expects demand to be high given its focus on devices which appeal to customers interested in more than voice and text.
The company is headed by Hutchison veteran and former group handset chief Frank Meehan.