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Matusihita, NEC to port Linux on mobile phones

Matsushita Electric Industrial Co., the world's largest consumer electronics maker, NEC Corp. And Texas Instruments Inc. will invest 12 billion yen ($104 million) in a venture to develop software for high-speed mobile phones. The venture, to be formed in August, will focus on software development for chips used in so-called third-generation, or 3G, cell phones. Matsushita and its handset unit, Panasonic Mobile Communications Co., will own 44% of the venture, NEC and its unit NEC Electronics Corp. will hold another 44%, with the remainder owned by Texas Instruments, the companies said in a joint statement yesterday. The move will help the companies trim development costs and keep pace with competition in Japan, where operators expect handset makers to introduce new models twice a year. It may also help NEC revive earnings at the money-losing cell-phone business. The venture targets to have a 20% share of global license sales for the wideband code division multiple access, or WCDMA, technology platform in 2008, according to the statement. NEC and Matsushita said they would form a separate joint venture in October to develop operating software based on the Linux system for 3G handsets. Some mobile phones from Matsushita and NEC will use software developed by the joint venture from the year ending March 31, 2008, the companies said. NEC President Kaoru Yano on June 15 said the company is in negotiations with Matsushita, and expects the alliance to help reduce development expenses to 10% of revenue at its mobile-phone business. (Bloomberg)