Motorola and Siemens have formed an alliance for the development of 3G (third-generation) mobile phones, the companies announced Monday.

Beginning in towards the end of this year, Motorola will provide Siemens with its first 3G terminals (handsets), specifically customised for the Munich tech firm.

Siemens has long been looking for a 3G partner. Last year Siemens told PC Advisor that it had finished making GSM units and was waiting for 3G.

The company was initially looking to follow the example set by Sweden's Ericsson and Japan's Sony, which merged their mobile-phone operations in October 2001. But after potential partner Toshiba nixed its alliance with Siemens in December, Siemens indicated it might have to brave the 3G market on its own, something it patently did not want to do.

As part of the alliance, Motorola will provide Siemens with its 3G UMTS (universal mobile technology system) platform, called i.300, which includes an advanced chipset, UMTS application platform software, development tools, reference design, test environments and type certification support, the companies said. The first UMTS terminals based on the i.300 platform are expected to be available in early 2004, Siemens and Motorola said.

The first device that Siemens intends to bring to market in 2002 will be based on Motorola's A820 mobile phone (pictured), the companies said. Future devices could look like anything, and may be whole-screen units like PDAs.

Motorola and Siemens will face stiff competition from companies such as market leader Nokia, which announced a September launch date for its first mass-market 3G mobile-phone service and handsets.

Samsung and Sony Ericsson are also aiming for 3G European product launches by the end of the year, though both have said that 3G products won't begin to surface in stores in any meaningful way until 2003.