Hutchison Whampoa’s mobile handset subsidiary INQ Mobile plans to follow up its ‘Facebook phone’ with launch of a ‘Twitter phone’ later this year, according to a Reuters report. In an interview with the news agency, INQ chief executive Frank Meehan said the model would be the first mass-market phone – costing operators less than US$140 – with an Internet-based Twitter client. The phone will use mobile Internet connections for sending the 140-character messages, called Tweets, not text messages as in Twitter’s own mobile service. “This can really help open up and drive Twitter use on mobile when usage becomes part of your data package like on the PC,” said Meehan.

The move will be INQ’s latest effort to more closely align social networking with mobile. At the end of last year 3 UK launched the INQ1 model (pictured, left) that featured an integrated Facebook client.  Although it is not known exactly how many ‘Facebook phones’ have been sold to date, INQ said it has sold 700,000 devices since November 2007, a figure which includes the social-networking INQ1 device and a separate ‘Skypephone’ offered by 3 that features an inbuilt mobile VoIP client. The INQ1 Facebook device won the Best Mobile Handset award at the 2009 GSMA Global Mobile Awards last February. The Reuters report adds that, as well as the Twitter phone, INQ plans to launch another new model in time for the Christmas sales season.