Toshiba, Mitsubishi Electric seek 3G handset partners

Toshiba and Mitsubishi Electric, are both considering taking on a partner to share the cost of developing 3G (third-generation) cell phones, the companies confirmed Wednesday. Neither company would identify potential partners.

"The industry itself is shifting towards the trend of each (handset) maker tying up with another, as the speed of developments is accelerating," said Midori Suzuki, a spokeswoman for Toshiba. "Within this trend, Toshiba is still considering whether we should find a partner or keep working on our own."

A Japanese television news report Wednesday said Toshiba and Mitsubishi Electric are close to reaching an agreement to jointly develop technology for 3G handsets. Toshiba will reportedly be in charge of the development of wireless network technologies while Mitsubishi develops 3G-related technologies.

Toshiba would not comment in detail regarding the report. But Suzuki did not deny the possibility that Toshiba might partner with Mitsubishi Electric.

For Mitsubishi Electric, a 3G-related partnership is one possibility for the company's cell phone business, said a Mitsubishi Electric spokesman, who declined to give his name. "Nothing has been decided yet about which company or what kind of partnership."

"When considering how much time and cost it would take (to develop 3G handsets), some developments cannot be conducted by one company alone," the spokesman said, adding that Mitsubishi Electric is currently holding talks with potential partners.

Such alliances on 3G handsets are expected to increase, Other handset makers have already joined forces to develop 3G handsets. For example, NEC Corp. and Matsushita Electric Industrial Co. Ltd. announced an alliance last August and have already showed some technological development on 3G handsets from the tie-up.

Fujitsu Ltd. has also entered into a partnership with France's Sagem SA to develop 3G handset technologies.

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