I never thought the “Facebook phone” idea will catch on, because I don’t think Facebook is “enough of a service” to warrant making a whole phone around it. Plus, this was most likely a push from Facebook than anything else, which means it didn’t really come into the market in a natural way, and the market rejected it.
The “INQ Cloud Q” Facebook phone apparently wasn’t very successful in the market, and neither were some of the Facebook phones of HTC. So this idea is pretty much dead now. Plus, HTC needs to do a whole lot more if they want to get back on track. Making a “Facebook phone” is not exactly what I’d call innovation. But that’s for another post.
INQ is smart enough to see that Android 4.0 has received a very warm welcome by the Android community, and they are planning on moving away from their heavily customized Cloud Q OS, and just adopt Android 4.0, which is really something all manufacturers should do. But at least many of the others don’t have their whole UI skin customized around Facebook.
INQ Mobile is not that big of a company, so I doubt they will try their hand at another heavily customized skin, that will cost them a lot of money to develop. So either they will use stock Android 4.0, or they add a few of their own widgets and themes at most. That’s something I wish all manufacturers would do, and I wish Google made it easier for them, instead of forcing them to mess with the Android codebase.
If Android had a pretty deep theme engine, maybe, just maybe, many of the manufacturers would just use that instead. This would mean the phones would have their own flair, but at the same time, you’ll still be able to revert easily to a stock Android UI, without messing stuff up.
I also believe focusing too much on skinning the phone, which not that many people want or care about strongly, especially with stock Android looking better and better and people actually preferring it over any other skin, is keeping the manufacturers away from real innovation for their smartphones.
Maybe they should actually learn this lesson from Apple. Apple barely even touches the UI over the years, and instead they focus on creating new apps or API’s or some other feature that could blow the users away. Perhaps it’s time for the android manufacturers to consider the same approach, and leave the baseline Android to Google.