LONDON--'Facebook phone' pioneer Inq Mobile has enlisted Shine Communications to launch its new social news app in the UK.

Inq's Material app recommends news based on a user's Twitter and Facebook feeds. It is the first tangible sign of the British company's decision to exit the hardware business in favour of mobile software.

Shine previously worked with Inq on the UK launch of its Cloud Touch handset in 2011, dubbed the 'Facebook phone' for its integration with the social networking site. Despite shipping 1.5m handsets, the company stopped making phones in early 2012 after concluding that it could not compete with with bigger rivals such as Samsung.

Instead, as Inq CEO Ken Johnstone announced at CES earlier this month, is now focused on developing a robust app engine.

Material is initially available on Android with an iOS version expected later this year. Inq is aiming to build engagement among Material's audience through a targeted, integrated programme with key audience influencers. 

Shine will report to Inq head of marketing, Tom Mansbridge, who said that the firm "demonstrated a clear understanding of our audience and the importance of making sure our core technology media were on board."

"They were committed and delivered fantastic results last year for us with the Inq Cloud Touch, and we are looking forward to working with them again,” added Mansbridge.

Formed in 2008, Inq is owned by Hong Kong's Hutchison Whampoa.

“The mobile space is evolving at an astonishing rate with software applications being at the forefront. It’s an exciting time and we are delighted to be working with Inq Mobile while they pave the way in social mobile.” said Lawrence Collis, Divisional Managing Director, Shine Communications.