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2010/03/10 06:00 KST
LG Electronics releases its first Android smartphone in S. Korea

By Lee Youkyung
SEOUL, March 10 (Yonhap) -- LG Electronics Inc. unveiled its new Android system-based smartphone in South Korea on Wednesday, as Korean companies wrestle with U.S. handset makers to win back their share of the domestic smartphone market.

   The Andro-1 model is the second smartphone on the South Korean market that operates on Google Inc.'s mobile operating system. It is optimized for using the search engine, e-mail and calendar services provided by the U.S. giant, LG said in a release.

The same model was released earlier in November on the global market, mostly in Europe. LG said it still has no plan to release the model in the United States.

   LG's first Android-based smartphone features a QWERTY keypad and supports social networking services linked with phone contact lists, the company said. It will be available through the country's second-largest mobile operator, KT Corp., for 600,000 won (US$529) before subsidies and taxes.

   Unlike the domestic feature phone market, which has long been dominated by local handset makers LG and Samsung Electronics Co., South Korea's smartphone segment has seen a growing presence of U.S. handset makers.

   Apple Inc., which rolled out its iPhone in South Korea in December, sold 400,000 units in about three months, while Motorola Inc., the largest U.S. handset maker, released its Android-based Motoroi in February with 25,000 pre-orders.

   Samsung Electronics Co., which sells a few smartphones based on Microsoft Corp.'s Windows Mobile system, said its first Android-based smartphone will hit the shelves this month.