London: Swedish mobile phones group Ericsson is planning to license more of its technology for GSM GPRS, EDGE and third generation mobiles to other manufacturers. It has set up a separate company, Ericsson Mobile Platforms, to deal with the additional licensing activities.
The move is part of a significant restructuring at the mobile phone firm, which has already seen Ericsson outsource all its manufacturing and is merging its handsets business with the mobile phone unit of Sony in October through a joint venture to be based in London, UK. However, the new operation to sell 2.5 and 3G platform technologies to original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) will stay within the Ericsson group, and be based in Sweden.
Ericsson is following in the footsteps of archrival Motorola, which announced late last month it would sell its proprietary mobile handset technologies to other OEMs and contract designers.
The Swedish group will sell intellectual property rights covering complete component specifications, PCB layouts and software. The new company will also offer support to customise mobile handset platforms.
The intention is to target OEMs that do not have mobile phone design expertise but who are looking to launch new products with limited R&D investment, leaving the OEM to focus on distribution and marketing.
Ericsson started actively licensing and selling its mobile platform technologies at the beginning of this year, and although will potentially sell its core technology to rival manufacturers and suppliers, it believes it has no choice but follow the trend.
Jan Uddenfeldt, senior vice president, technology, at Ericsson, said "in the near future, few companies will deliver platform chip-sets, but many companies will deliver handsets."
He said the handset market is going through the same transformation that the personal computer sector witnessed in the early 1990s, with the rise of the motherboard industry and the emergence of large brand assemblers. Uddenfeldt said Ericsson, with its wealth of IP and expertise in handset technologies, is ideally positioned to benefit from this trend.