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Fujitsu, NEC, Docomo team up on mobile chip dev

No room for Samsung and Panasonic this time

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Japanese tech giants Fujitsu and NEC have decided to team up with the country’s largest mobile operator Docomo on a joint venture to develop smartphone chips, in a bid to become more self-sufficient in semiconductors.

Access Network Technology Limited was established by Fujitsu and the firm will retain the lion’s share of ownership at 52.8 per cent. Fujitsu Semiconductor will take a further 9.5 per cent share, while Docomo (19.9 per cent) and NEC (17.8 per cent) will split the rest between them.

The firms want to be able to capitalise on the rapid expansion of the global smartphone market and increasing data traffic volumes without relying on third party mobile chip makers like undisputed leader Qualcomm, which has a 50 per cent market share by revenue.

In a brief statement the new partners said decided they'd be better off pooling IP in order to “develop industry-leading communications platform products”.

It won’t be a massive leap of faith for the firms, given that they already work together to produce chips for their phones.

However, the joint venture will not only develop “semiconductor products with built-in modem functions” for use in their own phones but will also look to sell internationally.

The venture’s 85 employees, headquartered in Kanagawa Prefecture, will focus on design and development, meaning production of the chips is likely to be outsourced.

The venture follows an unsuccessful attempt by the firms, plus Samsung and Panasonic, to strike a similar deal to develop LTE chipsets earlier this year.

In the end that was shelved because of disagreements between the various parties.

The promise of greater self-reliance when it comes to chip development is obviously a big draw for the firms, and given Qualcomm’s recent admission of supply problems with its 28nm Snapdragon chips, it’s not hard to see why. ®

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