'Android Will Bring Open Handsets to Japan,' Google Says

Feb 3, 2009
Toshiyuki Oomori, Nikkei Electronics
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Google Japan Inc, Google Inc's Japanese unit, explained its Android mobile phone platform at a presentation Feb 2, 2009, in Japan.

John Lagerling, head of Wireless Business, Japan & Asia Pacific at Google, reiterated that Android-based handsets will not be closed ones like the existing mobile phones in Japan.

Android is not compatible with Japanese language yet. But Lagerling said that Google is currently developing Japanese language compatibility and other functions required in Japan and plans to release the Japanese open source version of Android in the near future.

After the presentation, one of the participants asked him the following question.

"Users of current Japanese mobile phones can't freely install software in their handsets, which use, for example, Symbian OS or LiMo Platform. Is it possible to develop closed handsets that use Android as the platform?"

Lagerling answered, "As Android is open source, handset manufacturers can use it as they like. However, as long as Google is involved with them, we will make sure that Android-based mobile phones are open."

Also, Lagerling referred to Apple Inc's iPhone, which is frequently compared with Android mobile phones.

"It used to be believed that Japan was the only market where people were willing to pay packet charges to view content other than voices and messages. The iPhone, however, showed that the same needs exist in the US," he said, speaking highly of the iPhone as a forerunner.