Wed, Oct 14, 2009 - Page 12 News List

Taiwan Mobile and HTC unveil phone with EasyCard chip

By Jason Tan  /  STAFF REPORTER

Google Inc’s Android platform is enjoying greater momentum in Taiwan, with HTC Corp (宏達電), the leading maker of smartphones running on Microsoft Corp’s Windows Mobile and Android platforms, teaming up yesterday with Taiwan Mobile Co (台灣大哥大) to unveil the industry’s first Android phone featuring mobile payment.

The HTC Tattoo is the fourth Android-based smartphone from HTC and the second such phone from Taiwan Mobile, the nation’s No. 2 telecoms operator.

Taiwan Mobile launched its first Android phone, the Galaxy i7500, in collaboration with Samsung Electronics Co. It went on sale on Sept. 1.

“We now have just two makers — Samsung and HTC — launching Android phones. We expect to make more Android phones available for users in the future when more makers roll out models,” Cliff Lai (賴弦五), a senior vice president of Taiwan Mobile, told reporters on the sidelines of the product launch yesterday.

With more Android smartphones available, Taiwan Mobile expects smartphone sales to account for 15 percent to 20 percent of its total phone sales next year, up from 10 percent this year.

The operator will procure around 1.2 million mobile phones — including feature phones and smartphones — from various phone makers this year. It has yet to finalize its procurement figures for next year, Lai said.

Set for launch next Tuesday, the HTC Tattoo has an EasyCard chip in the back cover, allowing users to use the phone to pay for public transportation and taxis in Taipei and, in the future, for small-sum transactions at convenience stores and chains such as Starbucks.

Eventually, there will be more than 10,000 outlets nationwide where HTC Tattoo users can pay with their phones. Taiwan Mobile said it expected Tattoo sales to range between “a few thousand units and 10,000 units a month.”

HTC Tattoo also integrates Google’s mobile services, including Google Maps, Google Search and Google Mail. It comes with a 2.8-inch screen, a 3.2-megapixel camera and a 3.5mm stereo headset jack.

Users will also be able to design and purchase their own unique covers or search and select from popular cover designs, altering the look of the phone to reflect their mood or individual tastes.

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