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HTC had a bad 2011, and a worse early 2012. To turn the ship around, HTC has embarked in overhauling its business, its products, and its image, and so far the results seem pretty encouraging. After announcing they will concentrate on “hero” devices starting this year, it seems that the Taiwanese will change its strategy on another front as well.

In the processor department, after partnering for years with Qualcomm, HTC may start taking chip manufacturing in its own hands. According to a recent China Times report, HTC is very close to entering a strategic partnership with struggling chip specialist ST-Ericsson for co-developing chips, which might start powering HTC devices as early as next year.

This strategy shift doesn’t imply that HTC will drop the collaboration with Qualcomm, which makes the high-powered silicon found in the Taiwanese’ LTE version of the already popular HTC One X. More likely, the fruits of the love between HTC and ST-Ericsson will materialize in devices found on the lower end of HTC’s roster.

Could this be a sign that HTC has realized it needs to pay more attention to lower end, affordable gadgets in order to regain popularity? It surely could. However, this upcoming partnership could also be a starting point for something far greater.

I mean, you can’t just decide to manufacture high-end processors and hope you’re going to be an overnight hit, can you? Which is why it’s much better to start out with entry-level smartphones, and then, once you got the hang of the game, you can move up and try to challenge the big guys, like NVIDIA, Qualcomm, or TI with high-end chips of your own.

According to rumors, the platform on which HTC and ST-Ericsson will work together is the U4500, a 1 GHz Cortex-A9 based chip that uses Mali-400 graphics and comes with 4G connectivity radio.