Google Postpones China Android Launch

According to the Associated Press Google is holding off its formal launch of Android in China:

"It is postponed," Google Inc. spokeswoman Marsha Wang said. She said a launch ceremony planned for Wednesday was canceled but declined to give a reason for the decision or to say when the launch might be rescheduled.

I had thought incorrectly that there were already Android handsets in the market, the world's largest with an estimated 700 million mobile phone subscribers. (Dell's showed/demo'd its Mini 3i handset). When Google announced its bold new policy to no longer comply with Chinese government censorship, we asked how that would affect Android in China.

While Android and Google's search and services can be uncoupled, that hasn't happened on any Android handsets to date. Carriers China Mobile and China Telecom are part of the Open Handset Alliance that supports Android. And HTC had formally announced it intended to introduce two Android handsets into the market this year. Samsung and Motorola are also planning China Android launches. This "standoff" between Google and China is quite significant for Android's future there, as well as the fortunes of all these OEMs banking on the operating system.

Assuming no settlement between Google and China, this means that HTC, Dell and others will need to "strip out" Google search and other services from the Android OS (part of their appeal) in order to continue to operate in the market. Absent such a move it might mean that Android wouldn't enter China (except illegally). But a Google-less Android diminishes the handset/OS somewhat for users -- and certainly for Google.  

The iPhone (with Google search) current is in China. The potential withdrawal of Google from China won't necessarily impact the iPhone, which can or could substitute other search and services on the device.