Google’s Android mobile phone operating system is set to make its legal debut in China next month when China Mobile launches specially adapted handsets.
The Taiwan-based handset manufacturer HTC said China Mobile would start selling a customised version of the HTC Magic, a handset based on Google’s Android operating system, through its stores.
Note that Android-based handsets and iPhones have long been available in China through ‘grey imports’ – consumers can buy the G1, a phone custom-made for Deutsche Telekom by HTC, and the iPhone in any electronics retail chain.
But none of these sales are strictly legal as China bans WiFi handsets from its market unless they are also compatible with WAPI, a local wireless standard. Also, consumers cannot get these handsets directly through their mobile operators, and the operators cannot subsidise them.
The Financial Times states that the Android handset made by HTC will bypass that problem as it will operate with Edge, a technology that allows consumers to use most of the functions available under 3G.