Japanese consumer electronics giant Sony has made a major move to boost its LTE capability and position itself strongly in the IoT market with the acquisition of Israeli chip-maker Altair Semiconductor.
Sony will pay $212 million for the company in a deal that is expected to complete within weeks. Altair specialises in LTE modems and recently collaborated with Ericsson and AT&T to develop a special ‘power saving mode’ for LTE, designed specifically with IoT in mind. A critical feature of embedded IoT LTE modules will be very low power consumption, with battery life measured in years or even decades.
“With the acquisition of Altair, Sony aims to not only expand Altair’s existing business, but also to move forward with research on and development of new sensing technologies,” said the Sony announcement. “By combining Sony’s sensing technologies – such as GNSS (Global Navigation Satellite System) and image sensors – with Altair’s high-performance, low power consumption and cost-competitive modem chip technology, and by further evolving both, Sony will strive to develop a new breed of cellular-connected, sensing component devices.”
This move is a further illustration of the wide variety of industries that are keen to have a direct stake in IoT. While Sony is happy to outsource the modem business for its mobile phones to the likes of Qualcomm it wants to bring IoT connectivity in-house. Presumably it anticipates being able to differentiate its various products with unique IoT capability in future.