3 is certainly one of the more innovative and forward-thinking mobile network operators in the UK and the fact that they have spun out INQmobile, a company that concentrates only on designing mobile phones, shows their commitment.
Their original Skypephone mobile - the S1 - was released roughly one year ago was a breakthrough both in terms of price and features as well as sheer capabilities and since then, two other 3-only smartphones, the S2 and the INQ1, have been rolled out.
If 3 maintains this 6-month cycle, the next INQ2 smartphone will be out by May 2009, which gives them ample time to implement some new features that could make it a potent competitor to higher end smartphones.
(1) Bring in Touchscreen
The soon-to-be released INQ1 will cost £90 on PAYG which is still quite affordable; the cheapest touchscreen on the market (the non-3G LG KP500) is on sale for £110; which means that 3 could easily implement a touchscreen (like the G1 Android Smartphone) which, according to iSuppli costs, $20. Having a 3G touchscreen for less than £100 on PAYG could be a real winner.
(2) Have a bigger screen
Getting a touchscreen will also mean that users will be able to use a bigger, much bigger screen to watch movies, surf the internet. It will also position the phone as a more stylish and attractive model, especially if the price stays low.
(3) Add a Flash to the onboard camera
The INQ1, the S2 and the S1 were all great phones but none had proper flash which is quite annoying given the fact that a large proportions of photos that make their way online (and on social networking websites) were taken at night. And no lighting means no good photos.
(4) Work on making the environment smoother
The iPhone success can be attributed partly to the fact that its operating system and general user interface was (and still is better) than most of its competitors. Should the INQ2 want to appeal to a bigger audience, INQmobile will have to work on presenting it as a more coherent offer. And why not, while you are at it, bring in something like Apple's App Store or Google's Android Marketplace.
(5) Introduce Wireless Tethering on the INQ2
Allowing users to use the INQ2 as a wireless modem (through Bluetooth) is something that will appeal to the growing army of netbook owners who would not need to (a) carry a separate wireless broadband dongle (b) take on another wireless broadband contract.
Are there any features that you would like to see in the INQ2 when it launches in May 2009?