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Android handsets to rival iPhone for games as Google pursues Apple and Facebook

Android phones will soon be known for their range of games just as much as Apple's suite of handheld devices are, if Google can tie up deals with significant social gaming companies.

While Disney took over Playdom and video game retailer GameStop acquired web gaming site Kongregate on July 28, Google was busy in discussions with not only Playdom but also Playfish (owned by video game giants Electronic Arts) and Zynga.

Zynga made its name on Facebook with the wildly successful FarmVille, now boasting 60 million regular users, supported by the continuing popularity of other titles such as Texas HoldEm Poker, Café World, Treasure Isle, and now FrontierVille.

Keen to establish its independence, Zynga set up a standalone website for FarmVille, rolling out iPhone apps for FarmVille, Texas HoldEm, Mafia Wars and others.

In fact, over the last couple of months Google itelf has invested up to $200 million in Zynga, according to reports from technology website TechCrunch.

The Android OS, running on phones such as the HTC Desire, Motorola Droid, Samsung Galaxy, and Sony Ericsson Xperia, was developed first by Google-owned Android Inc and then later by a manufacturer's alliance.

Apple's iPhone, iPod Touch, and iPad are all capable of playing games purchased from Apple's App Store, and while games are available for Android phones, it's the App Store's low prices and wide range that's captured the imagination of consumers and game creators alike thus far.

Netting popular games such as Farmville, Pet Society, Social City, and Restaurant City for their own mobiles puts Google in a formidable position to turn the Android brand from a techie's delight into a mainstream attraction.