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Vodafone Launches Facebook Phone In India

Vodafone has launched its Facebook feature phone, Vodafone Blue, in the Indian market. The phone has been built by TCL, which also makes phones under the Alcatel brand, in association with Facebook, and runs a proprietary Operating System.

Facebook Integration:

– Dedicated Facebook button: The phone sports a dedicated Facebook short-cut key, which can be assigned to one of a number of tasks, including instantly posting a status update with photos from the phone’s gallery or with links from the browser.

– Phonebook & Inbox integration: It offers  integration with the user’s Facebook account, syncing his Facebook contacts list with the phone’s native phone-book and messages with a unified inbox, that also houses regular text messages.

– Automatic Updates: The phone automatically downloads notifications and updates from the user’s Facebook friends and displays them on its home-screen.

– Picture Uploads & Chat: It also supports direct picture upload and multiple Facebook chat sessions.

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However, the most disappointing aspect of the phone is its limited connectivity options: it does not support 3G or WiFi connectivity, and relies on Edge. Although it does feature a QWERTY keypad, the phone is rather low on the specs front with a 2 Megapixel camera and a 2.4 inch QVGA screen.

It is priced at Rs 4,950, which we believe is rather steep looking at its limited feature set. Vodafone has bundled unlimited access to Facebook for a period of one year, along with the phone.

Other Social/Content Phones

This is not the first time when we’re seeing a Facebook phone.

– INQ: UK based handset maker INQ has released phones that featured Facebook and Twitter integration with Indian operator, Aircel. Although, its latest offering, the INQ Cloud Touch, which is an Android powered Smartphone featuring deep Facebook integration, has not yet made it to the Indian shores.

– HTC: HTC had also launched the Chacha and Salsa smart phones, with Facebook integration, including a dedicated Facebook key.

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– Tata Docomo-Alcatel: Tata Docomo, had launched the OneTouch Net Phone from Alcatel, its first co-branded handset, with a suite of Yahoo‘s* services pre-loaded, alongwith buttons to launch Yahoo services and Tata Docomo’s Dive In portal.

Our Take

We’re not sure if a big market for these phones exist in India, since most smartphones come with an advanced Facebook app, and a lot of feature phones offer a Facebook lite app. Infact, INQ recently released the complete suit of its Facebook widgets and apps on the Android market, killing their exclusivity on the Cloud Touch.

Even if Vodafone makes an argument that the phone is affordable (INQ phones costed more or less the same; Micromax sells an Android phone for Rs 6,000), how many users will actually go and buy an operator branded device that offers limited features, when they can get decent 3G capable feature phones from handset makers like Nokia and Samsung, in the same price range?

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