BenQ plans Android smartphones, netbooks for 2010

BenQ joins the growing list of companies making or planning smartphones and netbooks running Google Android instead of Windows

Taiwanese consumer electronics maker BenQ plans to launch a smartphone and a netbook running Google's Android operating system next year, a company representative confirmed Thursday.

The announcement adds BenQ to a growing list of companies either making or planning smartphones and mini-laptops running Android software instead of Microsoft Windows offerings. Android is a smartphone operating system developed by Google that is meant to make communications and Web browsing easy, especially on Google sites such as Gmail and Google Maps. The majority of netbooks today use Windows XP.

[ Related: "Acer may be first with Android netbook" and "Garmin-Asus' first Android smartphone due next year." | Check out other news from Computex Taipei. | Stay ahead of advances in mobile technology with InfoWorld's Mobile Edge blog and Mobilize newsletter. ]

BenQ currently sells netbooks under the name Joybook Lite running Microsoft Windows XP, mobile phones with the Symbian OS and a mobile Internet device with a Linux OS. A few years ago, the company was a contender in the worldwide mobile phone industry but its acquisition of Siemens' mobile phone division went sour over mounting losses and lost market share.

The company hopes to market an Android-based smartphone next year, a BenQ representative said, as it attempts to rebuild its name in mobile phones. A netbook based on Android is also in the works, but its makeup hasn't yet been decided.

Most mini-laptops shown at Computex Taipei running Android use microprocessors from Arm Holdings, usually in chipsets from companies such as Qualcomm, Texas Instruments or Freescale Semiconductor. But Acer displayed a version of its Aspire One netbook with an Intel Atom microprocessor that also ran Android. Acer plans to ship that device in the third quarter.

Mini-laptops with Android from several other companies have been seen at Computex, including from Elitegroup Computer Systems, Inventec, Asustek Computer subsidiary Pegatron and an Android Eee PC from Asustek.

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