Can N. Korea be a future partner for Google?

Most of the smart gadgets developed and produced by the world's most reclusive nation run on Google's Android operating system, raising the question of why the nation chose to go with the system made by a firm based in its "arch enemy."

"Running other operation systems or developing its own for smart devices must have been difficult," a market analyst said.

"Since US tech firms are not allowed to have business trade at the moment with North Korea, there might not have been many options to choose for the OS," said the analyst, mentioning the United States' sanctions in March on North Korea's Foreign Trade Bank on charges of funding the nation's nuclear weapons programs.

The sanctions have severed all business trade between US individuals and entities within the communist nation.

Consequently, the North could not use Microsoft's Windows Mobile OS, which requires users to pay commission fees, according to a market watcher.

A Google official also said, "The Android is open to anyone (regardless of politics)," hinting the reclusive regime could become a potential customer in a broader perspective.

From last year, reports on smart gadgets including Samjiyeon, Achim (Morning in Korean) and smartphone lineup Arirang have drawn attention at home and abroad.

The devices reportedly contain educational content, and games including "Angry Birds," but are unable to access the internet.

They also do not have Google apps such as Google Play, the Android application market, and Google Maps.

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un visited an assembly line that makes the latest smartphone model Arirang AS1201 in May, reported the state-run Korean Central News Agency Monday.

Google CEO Eric Schimidt along with former New Mexico governor Bill Richardson visited the North this January, in which they asked the nation to allow unrestricted internet access to its citizens.

Some raise questions about whether the CEO's trip has something to do with a future business plan of the internet firm.

Schmidt said in an April speech that technicians at the Korea Computer Center, North Korea's information technology centre, had asked him a string of questions about future versions of Android. He said he did not give a clear answer to those questions.

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