Japan’s data-centric mobile operator eMobile is expected to start offering smartphones for the first time this summer, a move which will more closely align it with competitive rival offerings. Citing the Nikkei business daily, Reuters reports that the operator will launch two Huawei smartphones, one of which will “run the latest version of Google’s Android platform.” Such a move would be the first time Huawei has launched smartphones in Japan. The article adds that eMobile aims to grow subscribers to its mobile communications services 23 percent to 3.85 million in the current year through 2012.

eMobile’s move is significant as it currently delivers mobile broadband services only via dongles and PC datacards, using HSPA+ technology. It offers theoretical peak download speeds of 42 Mb/s and plans to move to LTE technology in 2012. Until incumbent NTT Docomo’s launch of LTE at the end of last year, number four operator eMobile offered Japan’s fastest mobile network. Its launch of smartphones would also raise the question of whether – and how – it plans to compete in the voice services space. eMobile is owned by Japanese broadband (ADSL) provider eAccess.