Google nearing Japanese Android launch

Google said it is developing a version of its Android mobile operating system optimized for the Japanese market.

The web services giant adds it is presently fine-tuning language compatibility and other required functions, with plans to launch the Japanese version in the near future.

During a presentation Monday, Google's head of wireless business for Japan and Asia Pacific John Lagerling confirmed any Android-powered handsets issued in Japan will be open.

"As Android is open source, handset manufacturers can use it as they like," Lagerling said. "However, as long as Google is involved with them, we will make sure that Android-based mobile phones are open."

In addition, Lagerling pointed to Apple's iPhone as a forerunner of the mobile experience Android will deliver to Japanese subscribers. "It used to be believed that Japan was the only market where people were willing to pay packet charges to view content other than voice and messages," he said. "The iPhone, however, showed that the same needs exist in the US."