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Google establishes Android team in Taiwan

The technical support staff will help Taiwanese hardware makers fit Google's operating system onto mobile phones.

This story has been corrected. See details below.

Google has set up a team to provide technical support for its Android mobile-phone operating system to hardware makers in Taiwan, Google confirmed Wednesday.

The group will provide support for phones, said Chien Lee-feng, president of Google Taiwan, in a Digitimes article. Google confirmed the phone support but denied the report's statement that Google also is offering support for the small, low-cost laptops called Netbooks.

"Android is a free, open-source mobile platform. This means that anyone can take the Android platform and add code or download it to create a mobile device without restrictions," Google said in a statement. "It was designed from the beginning to scale downward to feature phones and upward to MID (mobile Internet devices) and netbook-style devices. We look forward to seeing what contributions are made and how an open platform spurs innovation, but we have nothing to announce at this time."

Android is based on Linux and so far is available commercially only on the T-mobile G1 phone built by Taiwan-based HTC. Android applications are written in the Java programming language, but they run not on the Java software foundation from Sun Microsystems and the industry's Java Community Process, but instead on Google-created foundation called Dalvik.

Wind River Systems, which provides Linux for embedded computing devices including phones, has been hiring new employees to staff its own Android support business. Wind River expects Android to be used in a variety of devices besides phones, including car navigation systems.

Some Netbooks today already are available with Linux, so Android isn't much of a stretch technologically, but getting customers to buy such a device is another matter. Some are interested, though: Asus, maker of the EeePC Netbook, is working on bringing Android to the line, and Motorola's chip-making spinoff Freescale is keen on the Android-for-Netbook idea too.

This story was corrected at 10:20 a.m. PDT. Google initially confirmed the Digitimes story's accuracy, but later clarified to say it's not working on Netbooks at this time.