NEC and Matsushita Electric Industrial (Panasonic) may establish a joint venture to develop software for cellular telephone handsets, the companies said Tuesday.No further details of the talks or envisaged venture were available. However, the Tuesday-morning edition of the Nihon Keizai Shimbun business newspaper said the venture will be established in October. By working together, the two companies are hoping to reduce the cost of software development for phones, which represents about 70 percent of the expense of developing a new handset, the newspaper said.NEC and Panasonic are two of Japan\u2019s biggest cellular phone makers, and a tie-up between the two companies would make sense. Of the top-tier handset makers in Japan, the two companies are the only ones exclusively selling Linux-based\u00a0third-generation (3G)\u00a0cell phones. Other major Japanese handset makers are using the Symbian OS for their 3G handsets. The two companies were also among the founding members of the Linux Phone Standards Forum.Earlier this year the companies said they were in discussions with Texas Instruments to set up a three-way joint venture to design, develop and manufacture chips and other components for cell phones. Those discussions are continuing, an NEC spokeswoman said Tuesday.-Martyn Williams, IDG News Service (Tokyo Bureau)Check out our CIO News Alerts and Tech Informer pages for more updated news coverage.