Asian Mobile Operators Team up for Android

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A group including some of Asia's most powerful mobile phone network operators on Thursday announced a campaign to promote the development of applications for Google's Android mobile operating system, a further sign of growing enthusiasm for the software in Asia.

The Conexus Mobile Alliance, which includes major service providers from around Asia such as Japan's largest carrier, NTT DoCoMo, plans to launch competitions, offer awards and other incentives to encourage more local developers to create applications that work on Android. The most popular applications to come out of the campaign will be showcased later this year at a regional Conexus event and at GSMA Mobile Asia Congress.

"Selected developers may also have their applications embedded in Android handsets procured by the Alliance members, and be offered future opportunities for service creation within the Alliance," the group said in a statement.

Taiwan's Far EasTone Telecommunications, for example, announced an Android developer competition titled "Mobile Heroes" on the island. The mobile service provider worked with Google and Taiwan's economics ministry to offer cash prizes for the top three Android software applications submitted to the competition and all-expense paid trips to the Mobile Asia Congress for top developers.

The winner of Far EasTone's Android contest will receive NT$500,000 (US$15,217) in cash, with NT$300,000 for second place and NT$100,000 for third, the company said in a statement.

In all, five mobile service providers in Asia will launch campaigns or competitions to promote Android, including Far Eastone, NTT DoCoMo, Indosat Tbk of Indonesia, StarHub of Singapore and Thailand's Truemove.

StarHub plans to open its campaign July 1, but shared few details of what it might entail.

"The Application Development Campaign for Android is one of the many new initiatives that the [Conexus] Alliance has taken to promote rapid development of applications on the open Android platform, to nurture a vibrant developer community in the region," a statement from StarHub said. "Other initiatives include supportive resources for Android developers, as well as aligned procurement and development of Android phones. These efforts are made in anticipation that more Android devices across major handset brands will be available in the market from the latter half of the year."

Entrants to StarHub's Android application campaign can submit their software at between 1 July and 15 August 2009, the statement says, but the Web address did not yet work as of this writing.

NTT DoCoMo had not yet posted details of its Android campaign on its Web site as of this writing, nor had Indosat nor Truemove.

Android was recently a main attraction at one of the biggest computer shows in Asia, Computex Taipei 2009. Devices running Android included handheld computers and mini-laptops that used chips representing three major architectures, ARM, Intel Atom and MIPS. Google's CEO in April noted Android's rapid development, saying the growth of the software beyond smartphones has not been at Google's prodding.

The software currently competes with several other mobile phone operating systems, including Windows Mobile and Symbian. The first Android-based smartphone, the G1, launched late last year and was made by Taiwan's High Tech Computer (HTC).

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