Siemens to stay single in mobile phone market

Siemens AG is no longer seeking a merger candidate for its mobile phone division, but will enter into limited partnerships, the German electronics maker said Tuesday.

Siemens late last year stated that it was looking to follow the example set by Sweden's L.M. Ericsson Telephone Co. and Japan's Sony Corp., which merged their mobile phone operations in October, but now sees that as a longer term option only.

"That (a merger) is a strategy that could come up in some years," said Axel Heim, a spokesman for Siemens' Information and Communications Mobile (ICM) division.

Meanwhile, Siemens said it does plan to work with others on specific technologies. For example, Siemens has a partnership with NEC Corp. for 3G (third-generation) networks and with Casio Computer Co. Ltd. for handheld computers with phone functions. Other partnerships are in the works, Heim said.

Siemens also said it doesn't see a need for a big push on the U.S. market, where it is a marginal player. The company introduced its first and only mobile phone on the U.S. market in April last year together with Cingular Wireless.

"We are the number three handset vendor in the world at the moment. We achieved that without (a presence on) the U.S. market," Heim said, citing figures from a recent Credit Suisse First Boston Corp. study. "We don't see the necessity for a big marketing investment in the U.S., but will promote together with the operators."

Sales in the U.S. are "satisfactory" and new handsets are coming, Heim said, declining to be more specific.

The U.S. as well as Latin America and Asia are growth markets for Siemens, Heim said. Mobile operators in these regions are moving to GSM (Global System for Mobile Communications), which is the mobile network type Siemens provides handsets for.

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