You may recall that back in September, some rumors were being bandied about concerning Facebook making its own phone.
And while Facebook’s own Mark Zuckerberg went as far as to address the rumors, the ultimate takeaway was that Facebook wasn’t designing its own phone inasmuch as it wanted to become as deeply integrated into the core functionality of certain mobile platforms as possible.
Add to that a piece by Bloomberg claiming that Facebook was working closely with a manufacturer called “INQ” to roll out a Facebook-centric phone early this year, and here we are.
An Android phone developed by INQ has made its way past Bluetooth certification and, though the description of the phone seems to have been edited recently, the original description read as follows:
“INQ Cloud Touch is an Android smartphone built to make messaging faster and smarter. It’s designed around the way people naturally communicate and has Facebook built into its core. The homescreen features multiple entry points to different Facebook functions, while a dynamic widget displays a feed of status updates, albums, videos and photos.”
The description now simply reads: “An Android smartphone built to make messaging smarter and faster.” Bo-ring.
So we have a name—INQ Cloud Touch—and the fact that it’s got “Facebook built into its core.” Namely, your phone contacts will be your Facebook friends, the phone’s chat function will be Facebook Chat, the phone’s messaging system will be Facebook Messages, the phone’s photo gallery will be Facebook Photos and so on and so forth.
Will we see such a phone here in the U.S.? Not right away, if at all. INQ phones are currently available in several countries, but the U.S. isn’t one of them. Bloomberg’s earlier piece indicated that AT&T may have possibly been considering carrying the phones, so there’s that.
If Bloomberg’s rumors hold true, these INQ/Facebook phones “are due to be introduced in Europe in the first half of 2011 and the U.S. in the second half,” but, again, they’ll need a carrier here to sell the phones and service first.
I’d expect Facebook-centric phones to be relatively advanced, though not as advanced as standard smartphones running stock flavors of Android, BlackBerry or Apple’s iOS software. The main idea seems to be simplicity for Facebook junkies without too many extraneous distractions. They’d probably cost less than other smartphones, but feature limited access to third-party apps. Facebook phones could very well be what Kin was supposed to be.
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