Report: DoCoMo, Samsung to form mobile chip venture

Japanese firms will team with Samsung to design chips for new smartphones and challenge Qualcomm, the Nikkei newspaper said

NTT DoCoMo will partner with several Japanese hardware makers and Korean manufacturer Samsung Electronics to develop core chips for use in future smartphones, Japan's biggest business newspaper reported Monday.

The companies, which also include Fujitsu, NEC, and Panasonic's mobile unit, will form a new joint venture to produce chips that handle wireless and mobile signals inside handsets, an area currently dominated by Qualcomm. They are in final discussions to form a joint venture in Japan as early as next year, which will develop, design, and sell the chips, while outsourcing production, the Nikkei newspaper said.

DoCoMo spokesman Yoshifumi Kuroda said the company is considering various tie-ups across its business, but nothing has been decided. A Fujitsu spokeswoman said the company declined to comment. Samsung's offices in Korea were closed Tuesday for a public holiday.

Investment in the project will total around 30 billion yen (US$390 million), with DoCoMo chipping in over half the total, the paper said.

The companies are wary of Qualcomm's growing share in smartphone chips, which they fear could hinder development of phones that run on next-generation networks. The newspaper said they will use the chips in their own products, with Samsung considering them for its next generation of "Galaxy" smartphones, and sell them abroad, focusing especially on China.

DoCoMo, Japan's largest mobile operator, is in the middle of a three-year, $4 billion investment plan in its LTE (long term evolution) network that went live in December, and is already testing a faster technology called LTE Advanced.

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Jay Alabaster

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