China Unicom has indefinitely delayed the launch of its first Android powered handsets, which were due to be released in China on January 20.
The announcement comes as Google, the developer of the Android platform, looks likely to exit the China search market because of censorship issues and recent cyber-attacks. Last week, the search firm said it would no longer censor search results on its Google.cn site.
Unicom initially said it was delaying the launch of two Android-enabled devices from vendors Motorola and Samsung because of Google’s possible exit from the mainland. In later reports, Unicom attributed the postponement to debugging problems.
Unicom is developing its customized Android-enabled OS called Uphone, using Unicom’s own OS, UniPlus.
The second-ranked Chinese cellco is also planning to launch its own application store UniStore for its upcoming Uphone-enabled platfrom.
Unicom’s initial Uphone smartphones include Samsung’s GT-i6500U and Motorola’s XT701 devices. The Samsung smartphone will incorporate Android 1.5, while the Motorola device will adopt Android 2.0. The handsets will be WCDMA-enabled.
For its part, Unicom is also selling Apple’s iPhone 3GS and iPhone 3G devices in China. On December 10, the firm said it had sold more than 100,000 iPhones since officially launching the platform on October 30.
In related news, Chinese vendor ZTE said it expects to launch its first Android-based smartphone in the next two months. It did not say whether the phone would be sold in China.
Announcing that the company had also joined the Google-led Open Handset Alliance, Lin Qiang, GM of ZTE Smartphones said the company recognized the “growing trend and popularity of Android smartphones.”
“To accommodate this trend, ZTE has invested heavily in the research and development of Android smartphones during the last year. In the first quarter of this year ZTE will launch smartphones based on the Android platform.”