Motorola, the US handset maker, is to form two separate joint ventures with Indian IT outsourcing groups to create mobile phone software and telecoms networks for other companies.

The move highlights the shifting role of Indian software exporters from behind-the-scenes players to companies with increasing global presence.

It also reflects the growing sophistication of IT outsourcing towards work that requires complex industry expertise.

Motorola’s venture with Tech Mahindra, which will be called Canvas M, will serve Indian telecoms companies that want to outsource development of mobile phone software related to messaging, entertainment and e-commerce.

Current growth rates suggest India’s monthly additions to its mobile subscriber base could overtake those of China as early as September, although overall penetration will continue to lag, according to technology consultancy Gartner.

Canvas M will be headquartered in Noida, India, near New Delhi.

While the venture will focus initially on the Indian market, Motorola’s other venture, with Wipro, aims to design and manage wireless and traditional networks for global telecoms operators.

Wipro is India’s third-largest exporter of software and IT services.

A L Rao, Wipro chief operating officer, pointed out that the venture, called WMNetServ, would focus on telecoms networks.

“Customers now have a dependable and long-term partner that is backed by two global companies to outsource and manage their network operations,” said Mr Rao.

Wipro’s experience in telecoms outsourcing “complements Motorola’s expertise in mobility,” said Srikanth Kannankote, corporate vice-president at Motorola.

The joint-venture will be headquartered in Europe with its main operations centre in India.

The three companies did not disclose financial details of the joint ventures in Tuesday’s announcement.

Separately, technology consultancy IDC India on Tuesday projected that the country’s domestic IT market would grow faster than IT exports by 2010. The increase would be driven by more prosperous consumers and businesses in India.

Also, Motorola on Tuesday said it had signed a deal with Huawei Technologies, the Chinese telecoms company, for wireless network equipment based on HSDPA technology, a faster version of the GSM standard.

The move comes amid speculation that Motorola would be forced to sell its network business or make a large acquisition to increase the size of the unit as its rivals merge and it faces competition from companies such as Huawei.

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