Google has withdrawn its support for two new Chinese smartphones based on its Android platform, as its relations with China continue to deteriorate. According to a Times Online report today, a Google spokeswoman said the firm has “postponed” the launch of two new Android phones that were scheduled to be unveiled tomorrow by China’s second-largest operator, China Unicom. The two handsets had been developed in partnership with vendors Samsung and Motorola, which – according to sources – have been notified by Google to eliminate all Google-related elements from the devicess. Similarly, Chinese magazine Caijing said that China Unicom had published an internal notice saying that Google had withdrawn authorisation for content to run on its applications, and would not even allow its logo to be used on the phone. Android devices typically include Google-branded features and apps such as mobile search and Google Maps. However, Google is not thought to be blocking use of the Android platform itself. Motorola had already produced 20,000 handsets for China Unicom at a cost of CNY3,500, while Samsung had turned out 10,000 handsets at a cost of CNY3,000 each, Caijing said.
Google did not say how long the launch would be postponed or give any other details, noting only that it would be “irresponsible” to release the phones at this time. Google plunged its Chinese business into crisis last week by threatening to shut down the local version of its search engine if the Chinese government continued with its policy of censoring the service. It also alleges that the government has been responsible for a number of security attacks, including attempts to break into Google’s email service (Gmail). In addition, Google is understood to be investigating whether government “spies” involved in the attacks had been employed at Google China. Read our recent blog on the affair here.