Facebook Phone Taking Shape in INQ Cloud Touch

The reported Facebook Phone could be the INQ Cloud Touch device referenced in a Bluetooth certification specification. But it's probably just another smartphone with social widgets.

One of the most intriguing rumors to surface concerning Facebook in 2010 was the supposition that the social network would launch a phone tailored for its users.

Facebook was allegedly teaming with INQ Mobile to build a branded smartphone with deep integration into the handset's contacts list.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg denied this rumor after Bloomberg and TechCrunch triggered it in September. Little has been heard about it since, until now.

PocketNow unearthed specifications for the INQ Cloud Touch, which just received Bluetooth certification from the Bluetooth Special Interest Group trade association. Droid Life has a screen capture here.

Bluetooth SIG described the device INQ Cloud Touch as:

"An Android smartphone built to make messaging faster and smarter. It's designed around the way people naturally communicate and has Facebook built into its core. The home screen features multiple entry points to different Facebook functions, while a dynamic widget displays a feed of status updates, albums, videos and photos."

U.K.-based INQ Mobile, which has a handful of socially-oriented phones in its portfolio, declined to comment for eWEEK but indicated we should pay attention next month, which is when Mobile World Congress convenes in Barcelona.

The reference to Facebook in the spec description doesn't mean a whole lot. The description can apply to marketing material from any wireless carrier that incorporates Facebook and other social network widgets on the device to enable easy access to users' contacts.

Such messaging about integrated widgets for status updates has certainly has been table stakes for Verizon's Droid lineup. This does not prove that Facebook worked closely with INQ to guide its integration on the device, which was the big speculation last year.

Most analysts moved to strike down the Facebook phone rumor in September. They noted that, unlike Google with its Nexus brand of Android phone, Facebook seems disinclined to rattle the carrier market and mix it up with hardware makers to incorporate its free software on handsets.

Forrester Research analyst Charles Golvin said he couldn't see any reason why a Facebook phone makes sense.

"Facebook is already one of the most popular and highly used applications across all smartphone platforms," Golvin told eWEEK.

"Those applications focus tens of millions of Facebook users at Facebook multiple times a day. Why would a consumer want a Facebook-branded phone when their existing phone already connects them seamlessly to their social network?"

Facebook in October did partner with Skype to allow the VOIP (voice over IP) provider access to grant its users access to their Facebook content in the communications application. Of course, that was a pure Web software integrate play, with no meddling with carriers required.