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Unicom Taps VIA for CDMA Chips

China Business News, 12/19/07

China Unicom (NYSE: CHU; 0762.HK; 600050.SH) and VIA Technologies (2388.TW) have formed a strategic partnership, which will see Unicom purchase CDMA chipsets from Via subsidiary Weirui.

Previously Qualcomm was Unicom's only CDMA chipset partner. VIA has competed on price, with its CDMA mobile chipsets much cheaper than Qualcomm's single chipset price. Currently low-end phones account for 50% of Unicom's handset procurement.

Other firms working with VIA include Dopod, Cal-Comp, Haier, Inventec and Sangfei.

Prior to 2007, VIA worked with LG to win million-unit orders for CDMA phones from India, and it has recently become a CDMA chipset supplier for Nokia.

LENS: Among handset vendors working with VIA, Dopod is the earliest to unveil CDMA handsets customized for Unicom. According to Dopod, in order to produce the low-cost (priced at several hundred RMB) phones commissioned by Unicom without negatively impacting Dopod's high-end brand orientation, Dopod will launch a new brand - Vivie - for the Unicom handsets. However, both the new brand and low-end orientation appear, at least in part, to be strategic decisions designed by Dopod to assuage discontent from existing partner China Mobile at the new cooperation with Unicom.

Keywords: China Unicom CHU 0762.HK 600050.SH Via Technologies 2388.TW alliance CDMA chipset semiconductor mobile phone Qualcomm Dopod Cal-Comp Haier Inventec Sangfei LG India Nokia wireless

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