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S.Korea's LG Elec to add Google services to phones

South Korea's LG Electronic Inc. and Internet search giant Google Inc. on Wednesday said they would pre-install Google services on LG mobile phones.

LG handsets with Google products and services, such as Google Maps, Gmail and Blogger, will be shipped to North America, Europe and Asia starting in the second quarter of 2007, the companies said.

LG, the world's fifth-largest maker of handsets, plans to release at least 10 new handset models with the Google products in 2007 and continue offering them for the next few years. The two companies will jointly market the handsets.

Gadget enthusiasts who are waiting for the release of Apple Inc.'s iPhone -- due out in June, with prices starting at $500 -- have shifted their attention to whether Google is developing a lower-cost Internet-enabled phone.

But some analysts have shot down the rumours, saying that Google appears to simply be building software for web search and mapping services to work with the iPhone and other mobile phones.

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