Will Huawei actually preview an Android phone next month?

After the scuttling of Kogan's Agora smartphone earlier this month, will Huawei be the next to enter the world stage with an Android phone?

Many published reports this week have pointed to the mention of a "smart mobile phone based on 'Android' platform" on Huawei's Mobile World Congress (MWC) Web page as proof that Huawei will show its previously announced Android phone at the international trade event in Barcelona next month.

When Betanews visited that Web page today, though, the MWC page contained no mention of an Android phone. An MWC Web page with an Android reference doesn't appear to be cached on Google's Web site, either.

In a December press release, issued when China-based Huawei joined the Google-spearheaded Open Handset Alliance (OHA), Li Jilin, VP of Huawei Communication, said that, "Currently, we're developing smart phones on the Android platform, which we plan to launch in 2009."

A search of Huawei's Web site today turned up only mentions of Android in only two documents: the aforementioned December OHA press release, and a blog post that talks about Android -- together with the iPhone -- only in very general terms.

In Huawei's "Experts Forum" blog, Huawei's Frank Ching wrote that, "The terminal, which was once regarded as the bottleneck for mobile application, now is good enough. Apple's iPhone and Google's Android platform show that before long the intelligent mobile terminal would be good and cheap enough that everyone would like to have them."

Meanwhile, Kogan's plans for a commercial launch of the Android-based Agora, originally slated for January 29, got temporarily pushed back earlier this month for "interoperability" reasons, reportedly after the Australia-based company met with Google at its Silicon Valley headquarters.

Kogan's now derailed, unlocked Android phone was envisioned as working on virtually any 3G network worldwide.

Why has Huawei's previous reference to an Android preview at MWC apparently disappeared from its own Web site? Did influence from Google and/or the OHA come to bear in some way? Has Google lost any enthusiasm for Android lately, given its current cost-cutting campaign?

A report published in ChinaTechNews on November 10 last year -- prior to Huawei's OHA announcement -- yields a clue as to another possible reason for Huawei's apparent sudden reticence.

According to ChinaTechNews, a Huawei official told local media in China at the time that Huawei will start selling its first smartphones for both the Android and Symbian platforms during the first half of 2009, but that the smartphones won't be branded under Huawei's name.

Instead of being marked with Huawei's logo, the phones will be sold through the channels of major telecom operators in China. Unlike Nokia, for example, Huawei will not provide content or services for its phones, the report says.

The English-language publication quotes Chen Chongjun, Huawei's director of terminal sales, as remarking, "Huawei will stand firmly in the camp of operators and will never directly sell handsets to terminal customers."

Then, in a story posted by reporter Suzanne Tindal in mid-September, the Australia-based ZDNet.com.au cited a Huawei spokesperson as saying that the company's first Android smartphone will launch in the third quarter of 2009 -- and that it can be "ordered and developed for Australian operators based on any such requests."

No matter when Huawei's first Android phone becomes available, it looks as though you'll only be able to get one -- initially, at least -- through mobile operators that support the phone. Although things could change, evidence to date suggests that some -- or maybe all -- of these wireless companies will be located in Asia Pacific.

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