In a bit of a surprising move, Viewsonic, a company best known for its affordable flat-panel displays, has announced that it plans to enter the increasingly crowded 3G smartphone market. According to the company, the move is part of its vision of being a player in the display business at sizes all the way from 3 to 300 inches and will converge well with its other product offerings.

Viewsonic did not release many details on what type of handset it plans to produce, nor which platform it will support, but said it plans to target the Chinese market first, followed by Europe and later North and South America. Clearly, like several others in the industry, they are trying to capitalize on the strong growth of the smartphone market - Acer took the plunge earlier this year while Dell and Lenovo are reportedly working on their devices.

It certainly won't be an easy task, with the market already facing immense competition from the likes of Apple, HTC, RIM, Nokia, Palm and others - not to mention they have to get their devices certified with carriers first. Nevertheless, Viewsonic says it is well positioned to play in this field. They did not offer any timetable for when their smartphone offerings might be available, though.