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Where Are the Google Android Phones?

BARCELONA, Spain -- Without a doubt, the most disappointing feature of the 2009 Mobile World Congress was the near total lack of handsets running Google's (GOOG) Android operating system.

The industry rumor mill had been touting all sorts of possible new goodies being introduced at the show that would challenge Apple's (AAPL) iPhone. For the most part all of those guesses were just that.

There were a grand total of two new Android-based designs here at the show. One, from Chinese company Huawei and the other was the subject of a somewhat more subdued introduction of a phone from the U.K.'s Vodafone (VOD).

Mobile World Congress

Weeks before the show there were all sorts of stories coming from the Far East about Huawei and how it would be proudly introducing the first Android device to challenge T-Mobile's (DT) G-1 phone. The Huawei booth at the show is right next to a busy doorway, and hundreds of people gathered there and stopped by to see what all the excitement was about.

Honestly, there was little to no excitement in that booth. Yes, there was an Android phone on display, but just like Garmin's (GRMN) nuvifone at last year's show, this new design was also under glass. Actually, to be technically correct, it was behind glass. Thick glass. And it was placed all the way toward the back of the display case. Just a little black slab sitting there motionless. As you might imagine, nothing was turned on or working.

When I tried taking pictures of the entire line of Huawei cell phones, I was stopped by a well-dressed young man who told me there were certain phones on display -- in plain sight -- which I could not take pictures of. When I asked why, I received no answer. I was told I could only shoot a few of their handsets -- and of course -- their Android-phone-under-glass.

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