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Qualcomm snaps up Bluetooth pioneer CSR to capitalise on IoT

Internet_of_Things

Qualcomm has announced it will purchase UK-based chip maker and Bluetooth innovator CSR for approximately $2.5 billion in a bid to capitalise on the Internet of Things (IoT). The chip giant said the acquisition will strengthen its product offering and add channels and customers in the IoT and automotive infotainment markets.

CSR, having sold off its mobile technology business to Samsung in 2012, focuses on multifunction semiconductor platforms that cover automotive infotainment, Bluetooth Smart, document imaging and audio. Bluetooth has historically been a key focus for CSR, and since the Samsung deal it has refocused its activities in this area.

Although Qualcomm’s existing mobile chip offering partially overlaps with that of CSR’s, it seems particularly attracted to the ‘smart objects’ business powered by Bluetooth Smart. Bluetooth Smart is the low energy version of the technology, and promises big potential in the connected devices market.

“The addition of CSR’s technology leadership in Bluetooth, Bluetooth Smart and audio processing will strengthen Qualcomm’s position in providing critical solutions that drive the rapid growth of the Internet of Everything, including business areas such as portable audio, automotive and wearable devices,” Steve Mollenkopf, CEO of Qualcomm said.

“Combining CSR’s highly advanced offering of connectivity technologies with a strong track record of success in these areas will unlock new opportunities for growth. We look forward to working with the innovative CSR team globally and further strengthening our technology presence in Cambridge and the UK.”

CSR rejected another take-over bid by US-company Microchip Technology in August for an undisclosed sum. At the time CSR said it was considering other options for the company, signalling it was open to acquisition.

“While the CSR Directors believe that CSR is now strongly positioned to execute its strategy of delivering growth and sustainable returns in the medium and long term, we believe that the offer from Qualcomm provides CSR Shareholders with an immediate and certain value which is highly attractive, CSR Chairman Ron Mackintosh said.

“The CSR Directors believe the acquisition recognises CSR’s long term prospects and growth potential, and takes into account the dynamics of the global market and the competitive landscape in which it operates. The board believes this represents a very attractive outcome for CSR Shareholders, customers and employees.”

The CSR announcement follows Qualcomm’s recent acquisition of WiGig chip specialist Wilocity for approximately $300 million. Whereas the Wilocity acquisition didn’t seem to bring much extra that Qualcomm’s Snapdragon SoCs weren’t already capable of, the CSR take-over potentially is a fruitful one in the IoT space.

Considering the offer price, Qualcomm certainly seems to think so. As well as another addition to a long line of acquisitions, including AMD’s handheld graphics division and Atheros, it is also another sign of Qualcomm evolving from a chip maker to a ‘everything connected’ solution provider.

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