Far EasTone to release two Google Android phones this year

The first Android-based smartphone will be out in the third quarter

Taiwanese mobile phone service provider Far EasTone is working with a "leading" local handset maker to develop two new smartphones that use Google's Android software.

The first Android handset will be available to Far EasTone's customers in the third quarter of this year, the company said in a statement.

Far EasTone has been working on the project for several months now, including developing customized software and new mobile services that run on Android with local software developers.

Far EasTone said it shares Google's belief that this will be a strong year for Android smartphones.

The announcement raises the number of companies worldwide turning to Android as a new software system for smartphones and shows the potential of the OS and software.

While companies such as Apple lock their software into their own smartphones, Google's Android can benefit from mobile phone makers around the world developing smartphones for its software.

In this case, Far EasTone isn't even a mobile phone maker, it's a mobile network operator that wants to tweak the software to its services and sell the smartphones itself.

The company did not say which Taiwanese handset maker it was working with on the Android smartphones, but it has several choices.

High Tech Computer (HTC) would fit the description of a "leading" local handset maker in Taiwan and it's already released two Android handsets, the T-Mobile G1 and HTC Magic.

PC vendor Acer is also a smartphone competitor and plans to launch its first non-Windows based handset in the second half of this year.

There are several other possibilities, however, including Asustek Computer, Quanta Computer, Compal Communications, Inventec Appliances, Wistron NeWeb and BenQ.

Samsung has said it will also release a smartphone running Android.

Far EasTone could not immediately be reached for comment.

The company's first Google smartphone will run on Android version 1.5, according to the statement.

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