Facebook is building a phone. This has been discussed over and over in the blogosphere starting this last weekend when Techcrunch broke the news. i was very bullish on this prospect at first…instead hoping that Facebook would devote their energy to perfecting their existing apps on Android, iPhone, Palm and other platforms. However, a post today from Om Malik has changed my tune.
It appears that the Facebook phone is being built in cooperation with INQ, a cell phone manufacturer that I’m a huge fan of. INQ makes phones that are centric around social networking and bring Internet services such as Facebook, MySpace and others to phones that are very low cost. In the UK, you can buy an INQ phone for less than £100 that give you fantastic apps for the most popular social network services.
So, why is Facebook wise to partner with INQ? Because not everyone can afford a smartphone such as an iPhone or HTC Android handset. Also, if you can afford the up front cost of a smart phone, not everyone wants to pay for the data plan that accompanies it. By partnering with INQ, Facebook has the ability to build a low-cost feature phone that will feature Facebook as a core service…putting Facebook on mobile into the hands of a whole new demographic. Now, customers on carriers such as Cricket or Virgin Mobile customers can get Facebook at a low-montly cost…*that* is powerful.