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HTC Corp.

plans next month to begin selling in China a smart phone based on


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Android operating system, the first Google-based phone in the world's biggest wireless market, HTC CEO Peter Chou told the

Wall Street Journal


The new HTC phone is a version of the company's Magic model, unveiled in February, that has been customized to incorporate software from

China Mobile

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, the


reports. China Mobile is the world's largest mobile operator.

HTC, which made its name selling smart phones that use


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Windows Mobile software, introduced the world's first Android-based smart phone last September and remains the only vendor shipping Google phones. But




( MOT) and

LG Electronics

also plan to introduce Android devices, according to the



The new China smart phone is likely to retail for about 5,000 yuan, or about $730, although the price hasn't been finalized, an HTC official said, the



China Mobile is expected to call its Android-based 3G phones OPhones, a reference to Open Mobile System, as its customized version of the Google-based platform is called. Analysts say China Mobile intends for the phones to compete with Apple's iPhone, which Apple doesn't market in China but which many analysts expect will be made available through

China Unicom

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Analysts believe a successful launch of a high-end handset for China Mobile subscribers could help remove hurdles to the entry of similar handsets such as the iPhone into the country, the

Financial Times


Apple has negotiated for months with China Unicom, China Mobile's smaller rival, to introduce the iPhone to China, but industry executives say regulators have sought to hold back an agreement until China Mobile has a device that will allow it to compete for 3G customers.