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Panasonic snaps up Android to storm back into phone market

Panasonic is roaring back into the mobile phone game with a new line of Android smart phones, set to launch six years after Panny last made a phone.

Panasonic is roaring back into the mobile phone game with a new line of Android smart phones. Caught napping by the explosion of smart phones, Panny is adopting Google's open-source operating system to hit the ground running.

Panasonic hasn't made a phone outside Japan since 2006. It's currently working on a phone bearing the Lumix camera brand, a 13.2-megapixel monster of a mobile, and although there's no suggestion that'll be making it to Europe any time soon, we'd love to get our hands on one.

Osamu Waki, boss of Panasonic's mobile phone unit, admitted, "We misjudged the speed at which smart phones would be taken up," before going on to describe how he had spent the last two years living under a rock. In a cave. On the moon.

Adopting the ready-made Android operating system is going to bring wacky Waki and his colleagues back up to speed -- or that's the plan. Panasonic will start selling Android phones in Japan next year, and the rest of the world in 2012. The company aims to shift 15 million Andy handsets around the world by 2015.

There are vast swathes of ground to make up, against the Apple iPhone 4 and Android rivals such as the Samsung Galaxy S and HTC Desire HD.

We think this is good news. Panasonic's Lumix cameras, such as the Lumix DMC-TZ8 and TZ10 offer tank-like build quality, and if it can continue that sort of quality in its phone line-up, everyone's a winner.