INQ plans to release an Android-based phone by next year, company CEO Frank Meehan revealed, joining a small — yet growing — group of handset makers building phones on top of the Google mobile OS platform, including Motorola and HTC. Meehan told Om that the older players in the handset market have been sluggish in adapting new mobile operating systems, which is a risky strategy as new, nimble handset makers like INQ enter the ring. He said Motorola made the right move by making the leap to Android to rejuvenate its business. “In this game, you’ve got to come out with a handset every year,” said Meehan. “You can’t just hang around.”
INQ is best known for its Facebook-oriented feature phone, which tightly integrates the social network into the device. The company is set to release two phones by the end of this year, the INQ Mini 3G and INQ Chat 3G, which will include Twitter integration in addition to Facebook. Meehan said that more people in the UK access Facebook from INQ phones than the iPhone, and the company has accomplished this feat by targeting the under 35-year-old demographic.
Now that INQ has already developed Facebook- and Twitter-focused phones, what’s next for the company? By the looks of recent events, possibly a Spotify phone. Hutchinson Whampoa Chairman Li Ka-Shing recently took a stake in Spotify, a music streaming service, and put Meehan on the company’s board. (Hutchinson Whampoa owns INQ.) Li is also an investor in Facebook and upped his stake in Facebook to more than $100 million from $60 million last year. Though Om tried to get Meehan to comment more on whether a Spotify-focused phone was in the works, Meehan remained tight-lipped. Guess we’ll just have to wait and see how things at INQ pan out.