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Apple acquires power-efficient chipmaker Passif Semiconductor

post #1 of 13
Thread Starter 
In another low-key acquisition, Apple has bought Passif Semiconductor, a California communication chip developer that specializes in low-power designs ? technology that could be useful in developing a smartwatch-like wearable device.

Wearable Device
AppleInsider was first to discover an Apple patent filing describing a watch design with flexible display.


Details on the purchase were first reported on Thursday by Jessica Lessin, a tech reporter who formerly worked for The Wall Street Journal. Passif's current products include wireless radios for Bluetooth Low Energy profiles.

It's unknown how much Apple paid for Passif, but according to Lessin, the iPhone maker attempted to buy the chipmaker years ago "a for a price in the mid-tens-of-millions of dollars." The company confirmed that the deal took place, but did not divulge any specifics.

The acquisition may be linked to Apple's rumored "iWatch" development, an anticipated wrist-worn device that is expected to connect with devices like the iPhone while also measuring biometric data for fitness and health purposes.

Apple has also been aggressively hiring personnel from the medical sensor field in an apparent attempt to bolster its team for the rumored "iWatch." Well-connected analyst Ming-Chi Kuo of KGI Securities expects such a device to debut in late 2014.

In a rare move, Apple has even openly filed for ownership of the iWatch name in a number of countries around the world.

Apple Chief Executive Tim Cook revealed in May that his company had at that point acquired 9 companies since October of 2012. He also said that his company had picked up the pace since 2012, when Apple acquired companies at a rate of one every 70 days.

Since Cook's comments in May, Apple has acquired at least three more companies: In addition to Passif, it bought public transit and navigation firm HopStop, as well as crowdsourced mapping data startup Locationary. While the buyout of Passif will help Apple's future hardware, the benefits of the Locationary and HopStop purchases will most certainly be seen on the software front, through Apple's in-house Maps service.
post #2 of 13
It is time to start thinking outside of the mainstream analysts' way of thinking everything Apple might be doing is tied to a watch or television!

Just by repeatedly writing articles that Apple is making a watch, nearly every big technology company is saying it is making a watch. Sony pushed hard to get a second version watch out the door before Apple's supposed watch. The company did not take the time to think about pushing the envelope with its watch. Sony is entrenched on the medical field with awesome hardware, but they came out with a watch Apple would hopefully never come out with.

One of Tim Cook's favorite TV shows is the Jetsons. Think about the technology used in the Jetsons to get clues about where Apple is headed. The announcement of a patent that stores driver profiles on iPhones so a car can configure itself for the driver when the driver gets into the car can almost be seen in the Jetsons. The low-energy bluetooth technology enables iPhones and iPads to provide this capability while "sipping" battery life instead of gulping it.

Tim Cook talked about biometrics being an interesting technology. If he is pushing Apple to think about biometric strings to pull then that is where analysts' thinking needs to point. And, all of it will be wrapped around the iPhone and maybe the iPod and iPad. The watch is nice, but please move on to something more exciting!

As for the iWatch trademark, it is possible the trademark not for a watch at all, but something else like Maps... iWatch Traffic maybe?
post #3 of 13

maybe iWatch relates to the NSA spying program?

post #4 of 13
I'm not assuming that this is about a watch, belt, shoes, glasses or anything else.

There is value in lower power needs for everything and that could be all this is about. Not a set up for a particular rumored product

A non tech's thoughts on Apple stuff 

(She's family so I'm a little biased)

Reply

A non tech's thoughts on Apple stuff 

(She's family so I'm a little biased)

Reply
post #5 of 13
Apple will make a watch. They will also make a lot more products that neatly interconnect.
post #6 of 13
Quote:
Originally Posted by mdriftmeyer View Post

Apple will make a watch. They will also make a lot more products that neatly interconnect.

yes, but that doesn't mean everything apple is doing in the industry is about making said watch.

 

Charlituna hits it on the head... it's performance X powerthriftiness X size, for just about EVERYTHING Apple makes, from the MBA, iPad, iPod, iPhone, and arguably, Apple TV, Mac Mini, and even the iMac.   this acquisition can support all of them.

 

Apple has made particularly interesting acquisitions along those lines.  Apple is playing a long game. They don't buy a company for 'the next product.'   They buy a company for the next 'revolution of computing'  (re: PA Semi, and how Apple is moving back to proprietary hardware under proprietary software).

 

This is quite simply is a long pull strategic move.

post #7 of 13
Quote:
Originally Posted by charlituna View Post

I'm not assuming that this is about a watch, belt, shoes, glasses or anything else.

There is value in lower power needs for everything and that could be all this is about. Not a set up for a particular rumored product

I wholeheartedly agree!   People underestimate a device or devices that will runs  days or even a full 24 hour period with no recharge.  Its one reason the new macbook airs are being raved about so much.  Because they "sip"  power and run literally all day on a charge.  Think of an iPhone you could use for a week with never touching a charger.  Apple is investing in low power chips and memory to get there products to be useable for long extended periods.

post #8 of 13

I think there is so much opportunity in this product....but I hate the "watch" title that goes along with it. It's more of a wearable computer that goes on your wrist. It has so much potential for health and wellnes benefits...things like tracking pulse, respiration, blood pressure, BMI, physical activities, feedback on exercise/eating habits/drinking habits/etc...maybe this thing will even alert wearers to things like tachycardia/arythmias and warn when a heart attack, stroke or other major medical emergency is approaching...(the darn thing might even be able to call the hospital for you if you pass out or become incapacitated in some other way!) Not to mention all the non-medical applications as well....phone, internet, GPS, email, etc....

 

I am super excited about what the future holds for this product line...I just hate that people might think of as a "watch", just because you wear it on your wrist!

post #9 of 13

here is another iwatch device idea but with a built in solar-cell

http://iwatchconcept.tumblr.com/

post #10 of 13
Quote:
Originally Posted by leavingthebigG View Post

Sony is entrenched on the medical field with awesome hardware...

??? Are you referring to Sony cameras, displays, printers and recording equipment ??? I know of nothing else in the medical market for Sony. The medical market is trivial for Sony.
post #11 of 13
Quote:
Originally Posted by MacBook Pro View Post

Quote:
Originally Posted by leavingthebigG View Post

Sony is entrenched on the medical field with awesome hardware...

??? Are you referring to Sony cameras, displays, printers and recording equipment ??? I know of nothing else in the medical market for Sony. The medical market is trivial for Sony.

http://pro.sony.com/bbsc/ssr/cat-medicalproducts/
post #12 of 13
Quote:
Originally Posted by MacBook Pro View Post

??? Are you referring to Sony cameras, displays, printers and recording equipment ??? I know of nothing else in the medical market for Sony. The medical market is trivial for Sony.

The medical market is not trivial. Have a look next time you go to a hospital - cameras are everywhere.
and the behind the scenes recorders. Not just in surgery - but everywhere.
That said - Sony used to be dominant here as it was in broadcast, things have changed radically in both fields over the last 10-15 years. Sony is not as dominant as it once was - medical is still lucrative. Just a whole heap more competitive.
cheers r
post #13 of 13

This is interesting to me. Apple acquired several mapping companies and Siri which had obvious immediate applications to iOS. But they also are necessary applications for implimenting iOS in the car. Now they might have only had iOS in mind when they acquired those companies and later realized that they had every thing they needed for iOS in the car. However, I think it is equally likely that they came up with a laundry list of what apps would work great in the car and realized that those same apps would work on iOS. So they went ahead and bought these companies and developed these apps for iOS with the realization if everything comes together just right, they would have a great product to put in the car.

 

Power efficient bluetooth chips have an obvious immediate application for iPhones, iPods, and iPads. However, Cook has stated an interest in wearable devices in interviews. Wearable devices are something that you will want to never/hardly ever have to charge. They will also need to communicate with your other devices, so ultra low power bluetooth devices are pretty much necessary to make wearable devices a reality. This seems to be another acquisition that has an application to their current products that would be needed to release a product they may be interested in making in the future.

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