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2009/03/23 15:53 KST
KT to sell 'Google phone' in S. Korea

   SEOUL, March 23 (Yonhap) -- KT Corp., South Korea's leading telecom company, said Monday it has been in talks with local electronics makers to create a mobile phone powered by Internet search giant Google Inc.

   The move by KT, which recently received final regulatory approval to absorb its mobile-phone unit KTF Co., is expected to spark competition with Apple Inc.'s iconic iPhone and Canadian firm Research in Motion's Blackberry, analysts say.

   KT has been in talks with Samsung Electronics Co. and LG Electronics Inc. to develop a sophisticated handset powered by Google's software, Android, and launch the phone by the end of the year, a KT official said.

   South Korea's telecom regulator is set to abolish a rule requiring handsets to use a homegrown wireless Internet platform next month, paving the way for foreign smartphones to take a chunk of the local market.

   SK Telecom Co., the nation's top mobile-phone operator, launched the Blackberry Bold smart phone for corporate users late last year.

   In tech-savvy South Korea, about 45.6 million people, or more than 93 percent of the total population, own a mobile phone.