May 20, 2014 2:00 am JST

Toshiba to supply chips for new Google smartphone

TOKYO -- Toshiba will provide semiconductors to Google for a new smartphone featuring interchangeable modules slated to go on the market next year.

     Global smartphone shipments are seen swelling 20% this year to 1.2 billion units, with further growth anticipated from next year on. The least expensive handset in Google's new line will be priced at around $50, and some expect demand for tens of millions of units in the first year of sales.

     Toshiba will prepare three types of processors for the phone, to be used both in modules and the phone itself. Sample shipments will start this fall, with mass production to begin as early as the start of next year.

     The new phone will have rear-mounted components that fit together like toy blocks. Depending on its size, each handset will have space for 5-10 modules. Users will be able to customize their smartphones to suit their needs, such as swapping in a calorie-burning counter during exercise or a second battery when going out.

     This requires chips that can accurately control the flow of data and electrical signals between the modules and the phone itself. Toshiba joined hands with Google on development in October.

     The electronics maker was approved as a preferred supplier for this line, the only Japanese company to be given that status. It will become the sole chipmaker for the phone about a year after its rollout.