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3 Mobile’s parent company, Hutchison, is set to launch the INQ handset, which is a touchscreen, internet capable, one-button unit that has the manufacturer taking on the market dominance of the iPhone, Blackberry and other smartphones.
Speaking at the annual TIF (Telecommunications and Internet Federation) Conference at Dublin Castle, Group Finance Director of Hutichson, Frank Sixt, says that the company has launched into handset development with the intention of bringing out easy-to-use devices that offer better value to customers.

“We will bring IM (instant messaging), Skype and email to the front of the device,” says Sixt. “It will be reasonably priced for consumers. This is a reaction to the fact that it is still the case that most internet handset development is aimed at high-end, expensive devices such as the iPhone. By pushing the envelope – to under US$50 – we hope this will encourage other device manufacturers to move mobile internet to the mass market rather than just aiming at high-end devices. We think our mission with INQ is to deliver the same or better than these [high-end] devices, but at a mass-market price point.”

Sixt said that the new handsets will feature easy-to-access internet and just a single button for navigation and the phone is said to have an app that allows it to double as a plug-and-play 3G modem. “We started down this road two years ago in 2006 with the first suite of popular apps for the Nokia N-series phones,” said Sixt. “When we integrated Skype functionality, suddenly users were able to make voice calls over Skype and text using the economies of the internet. We then developed the Skype phone with voice and instant messaging (IM) delivered on flat packages. [This unit] will feature deep integration of key internet services.”

A 3 Mobile spokesperson in Australia said they hope for it to be available before Christmas, with the same price point (equated to Australian dollars with the exchange rate taken into consideration) not being out of the question.

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