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It being Christmas and nothing much going on the US and Europe, especially Europe, thoughts of Western tech news sites turn to round-ups of 2002, forecasts for 2003, and wholesale lifting from Asian news sources.

So without further ado, we draw your attention to Digitimes, the Taiwanese newswire, which reports two new licencees for the Microsoft smartphone: notebook maker Compal and mobo giant Asustek. They join HTC, also of Taiwan, maker of the Orange SPV Windows-based smartphone.

Details of the Asustek smartphone are, shall we say, scant - Digitimes says merely that it should launch sometime in Q2, 2003, before moving swiftly onto the firm's new PocketPC PDA.

Compal already makes mobile phones as a sub-contractor, around 800,000 a year, according to Digitimes. And it actually launched its MS Stinger smartphone - on Christmas Day. The handset uses a TI OMAP710 processor and will retail at $500-$600. Volume production - c.3,000-4,000 units a month (sounds tiny to us) - kicks off in January.

Sensibly, Compal is again taking the sub-contractor, rather than own-brand route, with its MS smartphone. The Taiwanese firm is talking to a handful of US and European networks and handset vendors to take on the phone, Digitimes says.

All of a sudden, there is a lot of activity in the Taiwanese OEM sector, centred around MS Smartphone 2002. This may provide some of the explanation for the spat between Sendo, the trailblazing UK designer of the aborted z100 smartphone, and its supposed sponsor Microsoft. In November, Sendo scrapped the phone, days from launch, and on 23 December it confirmed that it had filed suit in the US, accusing Microsoft of stealing its technology and customers and passing them on to low-cost Taiwanese manufacturers. ®

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