Android to Suit Asia's Emerging Markets?

Google's familiar brand name may make its Android mobile platform the system of choice across the sophisticated Asia-Pacific region

With mobile devices expected to be the interface through which many in developing markets will access the Internet for the first time, Google's upcoming mobile phone OS may be perfectly suited to users in this region.

Aloysius Choong, IDC Asia-Pacific senior analyst for personal systems, told ZDNet Asia the main attraction Android holds for Asia could initially be the Google brand name.

With Android touted as "open, flexible and extensible", the platform may also prove attractive to an increasingly-sophisticated mobile audience in the region, he added.

Said Choong: "Asian users typically have higher demands. As we move toward 3.5G, especially with fixed-rate data service plans, more will get onboard the mobile Internet platform.

"The more you use your phone [to access the] Internet, the more you expect in terms of extensibility, power and customizability," he said.

Google's extensive network of developers through the Open Handset Alliance--established by search giant to build and support the platform--may therefore "maximize the experience", Choong added.

However, the IDC analyst said the typical Asian user may not be looking for so many advanced features yet. "While [providing an] open, flexible and extensible [platform] is great, most users today are just looking for [one that's] intuitive and simple," he said.

Google's mobile platforms director Andy Rubin, one of the first few who worked on Android, said in a previous report that he expects the first Android devices to be mid- to high-end phones "because of the data access capabilities of the platform".

Android was a venture of Danger, of which Rubin was one of the founders, and was acquired by Google in 2005.

Consumers are expected to receive the first Android-enabled device by the middle of this year.

HTC, one of four handset developers in the Open Handset Alliance, is likely to be the first developer to ship an Android device.

In an e-mail interview with ZDNet Asia, a spokesperson for HTC said the release date for the Asian region is unclear at present, but confirmed that the United States is expected to be the first region in which the phones will make their debut, followed by Asia. (It was previously reported that Europe would be the first recipient.)

The spokesperson could not provide details on whether Europe would get the phones before Asia, however.

According to reports, HTC CEO Peter Chou said in November last year that the Taiwanese manufacturer expects to launch two to three Android-based handsets this year.

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