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Japanese Companies To Offer Google-Based Smartphone

November 19, 2008

The Nikkei business daily reported on Wednesday that Japan’s NTT DoCoMo Inc and South Korean partner KTF Co are jointly developing a smartphone using Google software to be launched next year.

Japan’s top mobile phone operator, DoCoMo, has been eyeing a launch for 2009 as part of a global alliance to develop phones based on Google’s Android platform.

Both DoCoMo and KTF have been jointly procuring handsets to cut costs.

Smartphones have been gaining popularity in Japan ever since the July introduction of Apple’s iPhone.

The report said that DoCoMo aims to introduce the Google phone at a price 20 percent lower than existing smartphones, hoping it will save costs on software development using the Android software. Google is offering the software for free.

The Google phone would be the first to be sold by Japanese and South Korean carriers.

However, the company had not yet decided to launch an Android-based phone next year, according to a DoCoMo spokesman.

Japan’s second-ranked wireless carrier KDDI Corp is also in the Open Handset Alliance that includes Intel Corp, eBay, LG, Motorola, Qualcomm and Samsung.

An Android-based phone, made by Taiwan’s HTC Corp, called G1 has already been introduced by T-mobile, featuring a tough-sensitive screen, a computer-like keyboard, and Wi-Fi connections.

DoCoMo shares were up 1.5 percent at 160,400 yen as of 0107 GMT, while KTF shares were down 0.9 percent at 27,700 won. Japan’s Nikkei average was down 1.1 percent.

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