Acer plans up to 6 new Android handsets for first half 2010

Acer plans to launch as many as six new smartphones with Google's Android mobile operating system in the first half of next year, a company executive said today.

The world's second largest PC vendor this week started rolling out its first Android handset, the Liquid smartphone. The device went on sale via Hong Kong operator CSL on Wednesday and at Far EasTone Telecommunications of Taiwan today.

"We're still evaluating the second half," said Roger Yuen, vice president of Acer's smart handheld business in Asia. Acer will ship five or six Android-based handsets in the first half of 2010, he said.

Acer plans to unveil Android mobile phones for three price levels, top-end, mid and low-end, as well as models aimed at business users and consumers, he said. The executive declined to say when Acer's second Android mobile phone will be available.

Liquid, a 3.5-inch touchscreen smartphone with a Qualcomm 8250 Snapdragon chipset inside, was announced earlier this year. The device uses version 1.6 of Android, comes with a built-in GPS receiver for location services and a 5-megapixel camera.

The smartphone will be offered by mobile operators in Europe by the first quarter of 2010 and will continue to roll out around the world, Yuen said. Currently, it is only available through operators in Asia.

"We have several operators we are talking to both in Asia and in Europe," he said. "We will be announcing [those deals] shortly, within the next month," he added.

With the launch of Liquid, Acer also introduced new Android apps. Spinlets, a streaming music and video service, ships on the device. The app will allow users to listen to streaming music and watch videos free. Acer is working with music companies to sign them onto the service, a representative said.

"We have a very large R&D team so they work on Android projects," said Yuen.

Another Android app ready for Liquid is an app to create an avatar for users to dress and use on their smartphones. Acer plans to continue developing Android apps to promote its handsets.

A number of rival Android smartphones have entered the market this year, including new handsets from Samsung Electronics, High Tech Computer (HTC), LG Electronics and Motorola.

Google developed Android to make Internet services such as social networking sites, e-mail, online maps and particularly Google services more easily accessible on smartphones.

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