BEIJING Texas Instruments Inc. here today announced a joint venture with four companies in China to co-develop next-generation cellular phones, based on TI's digital signal processors (DSP) technology.
The deal apparently gives TI an early jump in the terms of garnering design wins among China's fledging OEMs. At present, the China's cell-phone market is dominated by foreign handset makers, such as Ericsson, Nokia, Motorola, Samsung, and others.
Hoping to take market share away from the foreign suppliers, the China government is pushing a growing number of local OEMs to enter the nation's booming handset business. On the chip side, meanwhile, foreign suppliers are gearing up for the China market. Motorola, TI, Qualcomm, and others are scrambling to develop relationships with China's new handset and systems manufacturers.
According to a memorandum of understanding (MOU) signed by the various parties, TI will form a joint venture to develop handsets for the China market with ZTE Corp. Xiamen Overseas Chinese Electronic Inc. Ltd. (Xoceco), Beijing Huahong IC Design Corp., and Ningbao Bird Co. Ltd.
The project will be funded and supervised by China's state-run Ministry of Information Industry (MII). Dallas-based TI will provide semiconductor components including DSPs, analog chips, development tools, and technical consultation to help local OEMs build products for next-generation (2.5G) handsets.
"Both TI and our customers share the same vision in facilitating the development of adoption and application of the next-generation wireless standard for China," said Tom Engibous, chairman, chief executive officer, and president of the Dallas chip company.
Gong Zheng-jun, vice president of ZTE, added that "TI's expertise in DSPs optimized for wireless communications end-equipment will allow the consortium and local wireless equipment manufacturers to offer leading solutions and capabilities,"
The stakes of the cellular phone competition are high. China had 59.3 million mobile-phone subscribers in the first half of this year, but that figure is projected to exceed 140 million by 2003, according to the MII.