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NEC, Panasonic launch mobile phone venture

Oct 26, 2006 — by LinuxDevices Staff — from the LinuxDevices Archive — views

NEC and Matsushita Electric Industrial (MEI) subsidiary Panasonic Mobile Communications will establish a joint venture next month tasked with creating a common hardware and software platform for mobile handsets. The “Esteemo” Co. will be based in Yokohama City, and have 130 employees, with a capitalization of 100M Yen (~$845,000).

Esteemo will begin operating on Nov. 6, at which time a president will be appointed from NEC, and a vice president from Panasonic. The venture is funded equally by the two companies.

Esteemo's phones will almost certainly be based on embedded Linux, given that NEC and Panasonic have previously collaborated on a Linux-based mobile phone stack. Both companies continue to supply Linux-based mobile phones to Japan's top carrier, NTT-DoCoMo, and both are involved — along with Vodafone, NTT DoCoMo, Motorola, and Samsung — in the Open Platform Initiative that aims to create a common Linux mobile phone software stack.

In a release two days ago, the companies said “Esteemo” combines “esteem” with “mobile.” The name is meant to “signify establishment by Panasonic and NEC as business partners with mutual esteem for each other, the target of acquiring esteemed customers and of becoming an esteemed company in the market for the development of mobile handsets.”

Rumors of an NEC/Panasonic alliance around phones first began in July, shortly before the two companies signed an agreement to form the then-unnamed venture. At that time, Texas Instruments was also rumored to be involved.

Info-graphic from NEC's and Panasonic's July announcement of their joint venture
(Click to enlarge)

NEC employs some 150,000 people worldwide, and had net sales of $4,825B Yen (approx. $41.2B) in its most recently reported fiscal year.

Panasonic parent MEI recorded sales of $76.02B in its last year. Panasonic is its best-known brand.

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