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Kogan's delayed Google Android phone reappears

Has Agora handset been reincarnated?

Next week was due to see the launch of only the second Google Android mobile phone. Just days before it was due to ship its highly anticipated Android-based Agora and Agora Pro, Australian maker Kogan postponed the release indefinitely. Now, it seems, the doomed handset may have a second coming.

According to tech blog Engadget, Alibaba.com is offering bulk orders of a 'Google Android handset' that bears a remarkable similarity to the Kogan Agora handset. Rumours are rife that it's no coincidence, though the Australian originator claims not.

Just 10 days ago, the Agora's maker was keen to meet PC Advisor and demonstrate the hotly-anticipated Google Android-based handset. In fact, a statement on the developer's site states: "The Agora did reach a very late stage of development. Manufacturing had commenced and it was a matter of days from being shipped to you."

The blog post announcement of the Kogan Agora Google Android handset's postponement cites "future interoperability issues" and concerns about the quality of its screen. The 2.5in display and 320x240 pixel resolution were deemed too little to run Google apps effectively, meaning Kogan found his handset without the Android OS developer's support.

To date, only one Google Android handset has launched - the T-Mobile G1, reviewed here. Kogan aimed to score a scoop by launching the second-ever Google gPhone before the big name mobile phone makers got in on the act.

Kogan founder Ruslan Kogan announced the bad news on the Australan company's website after meeting with Google. Ruslan said that "it seems developers will be creating applications that are a higher resolution than the Agora is currently capable of handling."

The Kogan Agora was due to ship next week and was taking orders for the device, but is currently issuing refunds to disappointed technology fans who had already preordered handsets.

T-Mobile's G1 handset will therefore probably remain the only Google Android handset on sale until this summer, by which time Sony Ericsson, Motorola and Samsung are all set to have devices on offer.

Many disappointed Kogan customers said they would have been more than happy with a $AUS 199 Google Android handset with a Qwerty keypad and relatively small screen and would prefer such a device to a more expensive touchscreen model, which is what Agora 2 sounds likely to be. Perhaps they should club together and take up Alibaba's 100-device minimum offer for remarkably similar devices at $US 240. 


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