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MWC Preview: Hola, Android

Google (Nasdaq: GOOG)'s Android operating system is expected to be the talk of the town at next week's Mobile World Congress show in Barcelona, Spain, but it is not clear exactly how many new handsets will be on display yet.

Handsets
Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd. is expected to pin its colors to the mast of the open-source operating system at the confab, showing off its first phone based on the Google software. (See Huawei Says Aye, Android in 2009.)

The Chinese firm's Android phone has raised interest outside of its domestic market since it represents an expansion of the firm's strategy to smartphones. The firm has previously built its brand with a focus on lower- and medium-tier phones for emerging markets. (See China's 3G Move to Trigger Spending.)

Nearly all the world’s major handset vendors have joined the Android alliance, including Motorola Inc. (NYSE: MOT), Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd. (Korea: SEC), LG Electronics Inc. (London: LGLD; Korea: 6657.KS) , and Sony Ericsson Mobile Communications . Smaller vendors such as Toshiba Corp. (Tokyo: 6502) have also joined the group.

Samsung, however, won't be displaying an Android phone at the show as had been rumored. The Guardian newspaper in the U.K. reports that the vendor is delaying the handset to the second half of the year. Samsung is, however, focusing on one of the other technologies at MWC, promising to show off its first long-term evolution (LTE) chip for handsets.

Motorola is the other major phone vendor promising an Android phone for the second half of 2009. It is not yet clear what -- if any -- Android work the firm will display at the show next week. (See Moto Hangs Hopes on Android.)

Software
Hardware vendors aren't the only firms on the Android trail. Software and development work will also be key at the show.

Seven Networks Inc. will be showing a version of its mobile email software for Android handsets. The application will mean that the company now supports all the major phone platforms, aside from Apple Inc. (Nasdaq: AAPL)'s iPhone. a la Mobile Inc. and Funambol Inc. have updated sync software for the phone they will demo at the show. The companies say that "the client and server software enable Android handsets to sync contacts, calendars, pictures, music and videos with any backend data source and desktop."

DataViz Inc. is working on allowing Android handsets to access Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq: MSFT) Office apps.

Developers and dollars
Meanwhile, Google said on its blog on Friday that its Android Market application store "is now accepting priced applications from US and UK developers."

"Initially, priced applications will be available to end users in the US starting mid-next week," the search giant says. "We will add end user support for additional countries in the coming months."

Germany, Austria, Netherlands, France, and Spain will follow later this quarter. By the end of the first quarter, Google expects to announce support for developers in additional countries. Introducing applications that users have to pay for will bring Android in line with the rival Apple store and may encourage more developers to write for the fledgling mobile platform.

— Dan Jones, Site Editor, Unstrung

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