The INQ1 from 3 – a Normob social networking device?

Previously posted on Mobile Industry Review.

This morning I ordered the INQ1 handset from 3. Why, you may ask? Surely it’s just a 3 branded handset from an unknown manufacturer that doesn’t allow you to download extra applications because it isn’t running any of the usual operating systems – S60, Apple, Android etc. And you’d be right. But …

3 claims the INQ1 is optimised for social networking. It comes configured for out-of-the-box access to Facebook, Skype and Windows Live Messenger. Plus, the contacts application shows you which of your contacts are online. I want to understand what this means for social networking Normobs. All these applications are available on many other handsets via downloads or web browsers and in some cases ready-to-go on high end smartphones. But the INQ1 delivers this functionality in a low cost device. My experience of many Normobs is that they aren’t interested in looking for and downloading extra apps or paying more for data tariffs to support web browsing. But they use Facebook, Skype, Live Messenger on their laptops and I think would use it on their mobile if it was there and just worked, with no additional charges.
Ewan mentioned yesterday how poor (he used slightly more colourful language!) the S60 download experience is & he’s right. For mobile geeks it’s great fun hunting down cool apps but Normobs just want to use their handsets. The iPhone delivers a simple user experience plus the ability to download new stuff for those that want it but at a price point that is out of reach of many Normobs. I think the INQ1 could be making a reasonable stab at filling this gap. I’ll be testing it out with a selection of Normobs and reporting back shortly. 
Meanwhile I’ll get back to my E51 and see what new apps I can find to download to it!

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