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HTC plans Android-based 'OPhone' for China

Wall Street Journal report says the new China-bound Android phone will be a version of HTC's Magic customized with software from wireless carrier China Mobile.

The OPhone is expected to be a version of the HTC Magic, which came out in February.
Damian Koh/CNET Asia

For a holiday, it's been an eventful day in the world of HTC-Android-phone news. First came those leaked internal AT&T documents that showed, among other things, a new HTC Android device called the Lancaster that's supposedly targeted for an August U.S. launch. Now comes word of HTC's plans, starting next month, to sell an Android-powered smartphone in China, the world's largest wireless market.

The Wall Street Journal reports that the new China-bound Android phone will be a version of HTC's Magic, the successor to the T-Mobile G1 (formerly known as the HTC Dream) that launched in February.

The phones will reportedly be customized with software from wireless carrier China Mobile and called OPhones (referring to Open Mobile System, the name for China Mobile's customized version of Google's mobile operating system). And yes, the name does bring to mind another little smartphone we've heard of, but at least, as far as we can tell, the "O" will be capitalized.

There's no final word on price yet, but the WSJ speculates that HTC's new China phone will retail for about 5,000 yuan, or about $730.

The OPhones could prove a big boon for HTC, which is aiming to double sales in China this year from 800,000 units last year, according to the newspaper. Market giant China Mobile has at least 415 million subscribers, and it may not be the only operator offering the handset. HTC Chief Executive Peter Chou said HTC may also offer Android-based models through China Telecom and China Unicom.

Android-based phones, of course, aren't new to Asia. Earlier this month, we reported on the Singapore HTC Magic launch. Following Singapore, the Magic is expected to head to Hong Kong and then to Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia, the Philippines, and Vietnam by end of the second quarter.

But China looks like a particularly robust market for Android devices. Last week, Andy Rubin, Google's director of mobile platforms, specifically mentioned a high level of interest there when talking to CNET News about the promise of the operating system.