Are you in the camp that thinks most Android handsets are design snorefests that essentially look and act the same? Well, a device just launched in Japan with the operator KDDI shows just how drastically different the Google (NSDQ: GOOG) OS can be.
The iida Infobar A01, launched this week with the operator KDDI, is the first in KDDI’s “Infobar” series of devices to run on Android (in this case version 2.3). And, although it doesn’t look like any other Android device we’ve come across, it does resemble something else: Windows Phone 7 and its unique tile interface. Will that be a problem for Microsoft’s IP custodians, we wonder?
Those who say that Android is suffering from fragmentation — that the sheer number of implementations is making it impossible to develop services that take advantage of the critical mass — will probably see this device as yet another confirmation of that.
But taken on its own, the device is pretty innovative looking and is an example of just how tightly integrated an Android device can be with operators’ services — if not with the wider Android community.
It is the first to take advantage of KDDI’s new relationship with Facebook, featuring a special on-device widget for users to connect to the social network. KDDI has also integrated its other services, such as “au one portal” into the Facebook social graph. It also works with KDDI’s mobile wallet and mobile TV services.
The device will go on sale in July and there don’t seem to be any plans for it to go abroad — although it does have both GSM and CDMA capabilities.
Watch the video below for yourself to judge.Benedict Evans