3 owner to launch standalone handset company

Hutchison Whampoa, parent company of mobile operator 3, is launching a standalone handset manufacturer in a move that will take it head-to-head with brands such as Nokia. It is understood that its first phone will launch on 3 next month.

It is thought that the Inq will produce phones aimed at the mass-market and will focus on data services, such as mobile email and Facebook. The first Inq-branded handset will launch in the pre-pay market in the months leading up until Christmas.

Inq will be headed by Hutchison Whampoa director and general manager of handsets, Frank Meehan.

In the past, it has made handsets such as its Skypephone through 3’s group handset team. The new company is understood to have up to six handsets planned for the next 12 months. It will have total ownership of the hardware, user interface and brand.

In August, Marketing Week revealed that 3 is launching the first handset to have a “Facebook button”, that will take users directly to the site (MW August 20), before Christmas.

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