Encroaching into the semiconductor business might not seem the most obvious move for a phone manufacturer that's trying to unify its efforts. Nevertheless, China Times reports that HTC has signed a "memorandum of cooperation" with ST-Ericsson to co-develop a new dedicated chip for low-end handsets coming out next year. Since ST-Ericsson is a fabless chip designer, HTC won't risk getting silicon between its fingernails. Instead, if this agreement is what it seems, the Taiwanese manufacturer may simply want more direct control over its supply chains and to reduce its current reliance on ready-made designs from Qualcomm or NVIDIA. After all, it can't be easy for HTC's new CFO, looking on while others gobble up those margins.