Confused BusinessWeek report: INQ planning a Spotify phone, may integrate Facebook too

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INQ, the British handset maker and wholly owned subsidiary of Hutchison Whampoa (who also own mobile network 3), are working on a “Spotify phone”. Or so says BusinessWeek in a report that seems to be somewhat confused.

It’s not a particularly new story – both INQ and Spotify share an investor in Li Ka-shing (who also owns a stake in Facebook) – but this time the report claims to come from the horse’s mouth: INQ CEO Frank Meehan. It’s also here where things start to get a tad non-specific.

To quote BusinessWeek. “INQ’s goal is to deeply integrate Spotify’s services into its upcoming phones” so that the music streaming service is “even easier to use, by making it unnecessary for consumers to launch an application.” Because that’s really difficult, right?

That’s not to say that Spotfy’s limited social features couldn’t be given more prominence on a phone’s homescreen or be tied into its contacts app, and INQ has form in this respect in relation to its earlier so-called ‘Facebook phone’, not be confused with the latest rumors of an official handset. But regardless of any actual innovation, INQ has been quite successful at marketing its wares off of the back of the latest social networking trend: the Facebook phone, the Twitter phone, and now – apparently – a forthcoming Spotify phone.

Said wares will land on store shelves in Europe next spring, says the report, and will make it easier to access Facebook too, as well as several other web sites, according to a Bloomberg source, referenced by BusinessWeek.

The report then signs off with the following insight: “If these phones are successful, they could spur growth for both Spotify and INQ worldwide.”

Err, not quite.

Spotify simply doesn’t sell enough premium subscriptions (required for mobile use) to “spur growth” for INQ by itself and to those that it does up-sell to, well they’re more your iPhone demographic. Whereas INQ so far has been all about producing a social mobile for the masses. Targeting Spotify users is a completely different proposition to Facebook, the freetard-friendly social network. It’s also not like there aren’t a plethora of handsets and platforms that already support Spotify adequately, so I don’t see pent up demand for a so-called Spotify phone either way.

That said, if INQ’s owner – Li Ka-shing – is able to broker a deal to bundle a Spotify subscription with a dedicated handset and low-cost monthly mobile tariff, say on 3 (who’ve dipped their toe in these waters), then that could help the music streaming service become the “feels like free” mobile music offering that’s needed if its to go mainstream.

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