Outgoing Apple iPhone GPU designer Imagination seeks sale of entire company to parties unk...

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in iPhone
Just over two months after Apple told it that it would no longer be using Imagination Technologies GPU offerings, the company is seeking to sell itself off, either in chunks or as a larger whole.




The Imagination Technologies board of directors declared in a statement on Tuesday that it has "received interest from a number of parties" in purchasing the entire company, and has started a formal sale process. The company noted in April that it was selling off its MIPS and Ensigma businesses, in an effort to concentrate on its new PowerVR Furian architecture.

As part of the announcement, the board has declared that it will not be publicly identifying bidders for the company. It also made clear that there was no guarantee that any offer would be formally made, nor are there any obligation to accept any offer.

Imagination is the creator of mobile graphics processing architectures, most notably its PowerVR architecture, which is used in a number of smartphones, tablets, and other compact devices. Apple uses the company's architecture in many of its products, including iPhones, iPads, the Apple TV, Apple Watch, and iPods.

Apple's declaration in April that it would stop using Imagination's intellectual property within two years means a significant reduction in revenue for Imagination, as it will not be eligible for royalty payments under the current license and royalty agreement. Apple's license fees and royalties represented revenue of $75.8 million for the 2015-2016 financial year, and rose to approximately $81 million for the fiscal year that ended on April 2017.

The UK firm's shares plunged in value by more than 60 percent in the immediate wake of the announcement, and 70 percent to date.

Apple was said to be in talks to acquire Imagination early last year, though ultimately no such deal was made. Apple has asserted that it has been "working on a separate, independent graphics design in order to control its products."

Apple has also taken time to poach a number of Imagination's staff over the last two years, including GPU architects and designers. These employees could help Apple to produce its own graphics architecture, potentially saving it from having to pay royalty fees to other companies to license any GPU technology.

Imagination also implies in Thursday's statement there could be a legal fight in the future over the in-house graphics architecture move. The company has declared in the past that Apple has not presented any evidence to substantiate its assertion that it will no longer require Imagination's technology, without violating Imagination's patents, intellectual property, and confidential information.

While evidence has been requested by Imagination, Apple has declined to provide any to the company, and has reportedly not accepted overtures from Imagination for potential alternative commercial arrangements.

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 15
    lkrupplkrupp Posts: 6,687member
    Didn’t they start out saying they would take Apple down because of their patents?
    jbdragon
  • Reply 2 of 15
    anton zuykovanton zuykov Posts: 1,031member
    Imagination also implies in Thursday's statement there could be a legal fight in the future over the in-house graphics architecture move. The company has declared in the past that Apple has not presented any evidence to substantiate its assertion that it will no longer require Imagination's technology.
    Wow... Imagination, you should never go full retard. Apple does not have to prove to you anything. The burden of proving that they stole your tech relies on...yep...YOU, by providing relevant data and facts.
    You are not some sort of a highest authority to demand another company to lay down all of their IP, just so you could have a look at it in order to get new ideas, since you ran out of your own...supposedly to verify that they didn't steal anything.
    What a joke...

    "Apple has declined to provide any to the company, and has reportedly not accepted overtures from Imagination for potential alternative commercial arrangements".
    Yeah...those guys got really desperate for "potential alternative commercial arrangements".


    edited June 2017 jbdragonnetmagedtidmoreStrangeDaysjensonb
  • Reply 3 of 15
    MarvinMarvin Posts: 14,200moderator
    lkrupp said:
    Didn’t they start out saying they would take Apple down because of their patents?
    Likely out of desperation, knowing how much their business depended on them. Their earnings are here:

    https://www.imgtec.com/investors/reports/
    http://cdn2.imgtec.com/AnnualReports/IMG_Annual-Report_2016.pdf

    2016: £141m revenue, £25m loss, £33m debt.

    "There are no parties with whom the Group has contractual or other arrangements which are essential to the business of the Group except the contract with Apple Inc.

    PowerVR and MIPS make profits after taking into account direct engineering costs, PowerVR makes profits after allocating central overheads, MIPS did not. The other 4 units (Ensigma, IMGworks, Pure and IMG Systems) make substantial losses before any central costs are allocated."

    They shipped 456m PowerVR units in the 12 months before April 2016. Apple ships ~250m iOS devices every year so they were likely responsible for more than half their revenue and likely their most profitable customer, hence the massive drop in stock price on announcing they weren't using them any more.

    They may have patents but what would they pay the legal team with?

    PowerVR has done a lot to help Apple's products get where they are, the sustained graphics performance has really set them apart from their competition and they've been a partner with Apple for a decade now. It would be best if Apple could buy them out rather than have their IP going to a competitor. Market cap is ~£400m ($500m).
  • Reply 4 of 15
    Marvin said:
    lkrupp said:
    Didn’t they start out saying they would take Apple down because of their patents?
    It would be best if Apple could buy them out rather than have their IP going to a competitor. Market cap is ~£400m ($500m).
    If Apple does not need their IP (as is suggested), then it would be money wasted. $500m is a hefty price to pay to simply stop a competitor having supposedly inferior and old IP which they already probably have access to via licensing.
  • Reply 5 of 15
    larryjwlarryjw Posts: 320member
    Imagination no longer does anything; they are merely a collection company for IP. No value added.

    Maybe Apple already has a shell company that will buy Imagination for a song and cigarette. 
  • Reply 6 of 15
    Imagination also implies in Thursday's statement there could be a legal fight in the future over the in-house graphics architecture move. The company has declared in the past that Apple has not presented any evidence to substantiate its assertion that it will no longer require Imagination's technology.
    Wow... Imagination, you should never go full retard. Apple does not have to prove to you anything. The burden of proving that they stole your tech relies on...yep...YOU, by providing relevant data and facts.
    You are not some sort of a highest authority to demand another company to lay down all of their IP, just so you could have a look at it in order to get new ideas, since you ran out of your own...supposedly to verify that they didn't steal anything.
    What a joke...

    "Apple has declined to provide any to the company, and has reportedly not accepted overtures from Imagination for potential alternative commercial arrangements".
    Yeah...those guys got really desperate for "potential alternative commercial arrangements".


    Either a 100% Apple apologist/fanboy or someone who has no idea how the patents and legal system works. 1. Ever hear of the term DISCOVERY? Go watch a couple of episodes of Law and Order if you haven't. 2. Were Imagination to take information obtained through the discovery process and use them in their own products they would be guilty of patent infrigement themselves, and Apple would have the easiest time in the world proving it. And the punitive damages would be MASSIVE because our courts would not take kindly to their using our legal system as an avenue for IP theft. 3. Oh yes, Apple makes queries like this from other companies ALL THE TIME. ALL THE TIME. I have no idea what is wrong with certain Apple fans who believe that an overly broad, wide-ranging and consistently rejected by our courts and foreign courts time and time again view of intellectual property should be used to protect Apple's interests, but Apple should be able to use everyone else's intellectual property scot free or on whatever terms Apple tries to dictate because "it is being used in Apple's products that gives their IP value in the first place" (which isn't true by the way ... other companies sell smartphones and PCs too ... lots of them). Imagination Technologies did absolutely nothing wrong here, just as Apple didn't.
  • Reply 7 of 15
    adm1 said:
    Marvin said:
    lkrupp said:
    Didn’t they start out saying they would take Apple down because of their patents?
    It would be best if Apple could buy them out rather than have their IP going to a competitor. Market cap is ~£400m ($500m).
    If Apple does not need their IP (as is suggested), then it would be money wasted. $500m is a hefty price to pay to simply stop a competitor having supposedly inferior and old IP which they already probably have access to via licensing.
    Huh? No competitor wants Imagination Technologies' IP. Imagination Technologies IP is only used in Apple products. Everyone else uses totally different tech from the likes of Nvidia, AMD, Intel, Qualcomm etc. They even use different software and APIs to interact with the GPUs, such as DirectX for Microsoft and Vulkan for Android and Linux. The tech is totally, radically different - a whole different track and way of doing things really - that for the competition to incorporate Imagination's IP they would basically have to start from scratch. And why? Even if one were to have the opinion that Apple's GPUs are better than the competition, adopting Apple's GPU tech wouldn't cause a single MacBook, iPad or iPhone owner to switch to Windows or Android, because of all the reasons to choose Apple over the competition, graphics is among the least. Especially if one were to look at the absolutely beautiful Samsung Galaxy graphics, or the graphics on the high end Dell and Lenovo gaming and engineering/design workstations. Again, argue that Apple's own graphics are better if you want, I won't disagree, but claiming that Imagination has anything to offer that Nvidia or Samsung wants or needs is two totally different things. "The competition" may want to hire Imagination's engineers because, hey, good design engineers are an excellent asset to any organization. Apple agrees, which is why they hired Imagination's engineers, and why they hire engineers from "the competition" all the time. But that would be the beginning and end of it.
  • Reply 8 of 15
    melgrossmelgross Posts: 31,366member
    Imagination also implies in Thursday's statement there could be a legal fight in the future over the in-house graphics architecture move. The company has declared in the past that Apple has not presented any evidence to substantiate its assertion that it will no longer require Imagination's technology.
    Wow... Imagination, you should never go full retard. Apple does not have to prove to you anything. The burden of proving that they stole your tech relies on...yep...YOU, by providing relevant data and facts.
    You are not some sort of a highest authority to demand another company to lay down all of their IP, just so you could have a look at it in order to get new ideas, since you ran out of your own...supposedly to verify that they didn't steal anything.
    What a joke...

    "Apple has declined to provide any to the company, and has reportedly not accepted overtures from Imagination for potential alternative commercial arrangements".
    Yeah...those guys got really desperate for "potential alternative commercial arrangements".


    Either a 100% Apple apologist/fanboy or someone who has no idea how the patents and legal system works. 1. Ever hear of the term DISCOVERY? Go watch a couple of episodes of Law and Order if you haven't. 2. Were Imagination to take information obtained through the discovery process and use them in their own products they would be guilty of patent infrigement themselves, and Apple would have the easiest time in the world proving it. And the punitive damages would be MASSIVE because our courts would not take kindly to their using our legal system as an avenue for IP theft. 3. Oh yes, Apple makes queries like this from other companies ALL THE TIME. ALL THE TIME. I have no idea what is wrong with certain Apple fans who believe that an overly broad, wide-ranging and consistently rejected by our courts and foreign courts time and time again view of intellectual property should be used to protect Apple's interests, but Apple should be able to use everyone else's intellectual property scot free or on whatever terms Apple tries to dictate because "it is being used in Apple's products that gives their IP value in the first place" (which isn't true by the way ... other companies sell smartphones and PCs too ... lots of them). Imagination Technologies did absolutely nothing wrong here, just as Apple didn't.
    I don't think you get it either. No one is saying what you think they are.

    apple has bought at least two small graphics chip design companies over the past several years. To me, it was obvious that at some time they would go it alone. To further that goal, they've gotten, and applied for, several dozen patents in graphics chip design of their own. So they likely already have a fair number of patents here. There's no evidence that they need IP from Imagination to do their own chips.

    while there used to be a couple dozen graphic chip design houses, that number is down to well under a dozen today, with just five that really matter. There are a lot of patents floating around out there, many of them with underlying technologies. But also most are either expired, or close to it. So it's not such a simple situation.
    edited June 2017 chia
  • Reply 9 of 15
    blastdoorblastdoor Posts: 1,889member
    I think it's entirely possible that Apple could buy Imagination -- it really just comes down to price. 

    There is value to having Imaginations' patents on tile-based rendering. It means apple doesn't have to spend money on lawsuits or trying to avoid patent land minds in their own design work. Plus there could be some Imagination employees that they haven't hired yet but would like to get. 

    Imagination apparently asked for too much before, but perhaps now they have a more realistic view of what they're worth. We shall see. 
  • Reply 10 of 15
    NotsofastNotsofast Posts: 321member
    Imagination also implies in Thursday's statement there could be a legal fight in the future over the in-house graphics architecture move. The company has declared in the past that Apple has not presented any evidence to substantiate its assertion that it will no longer require Imagination's technology.
    Wow... Imagination, you should never go full retard. Apple does not have to prove to you anything. The burden of proving that they stole your tech relies on...yep...YOU, by providing relevant data and facts.
    You are not some sort of a highest authority to demand another company to lay down all of their IP, just so you could have a look at it in order to get new ideas, since you ran out of your own...supposedly to verify that they didn't steal anything.
    What a joke...

    "Apple has declined to provide any to the company, and has reportedly not accepted overtures from Imagination for potential alternative commercial arrangements".
    Yeah...those guys got really desperate for "potential alternative commercial arrangements".


    Either a 100% Apple apologist/fanboy or someone who has no idea how the patents and legal system works. 1. Ever hear of the term DISCOVERY? Go watch a couple of episodes of Law and Order if you haven't. 2. Were Imagination to take information obtained through the discovery process and use them in their own products they would be guilty of patent infrigement themselves, and Apple would have the easiest time in the world proving it. And the punitive damages would be MASSIVE because our courts would not take kindly to their using our legal system as an avenue for IP theft. 3. Oh yes, Apple makes queries like this from other companies ALL THE TIME. ALL THE TIME. I have no idea what is wrong with certain Apple fans who believe that an overly broad, wide-ranging and consistently rejected by our courts and foreign courts time and time again view of intellectual property should be used to protect Apple's interests, but Apple should be able to use everyone else's intellectual property scot free or on whatever terms Apple tries to dictate because "it is being used in Apple's products that gives their IP value in the first place" (which isn't true by the way ... other companies sell smartphones and PCs too ... lots of them). Imagination Technologies did absolutely nothing wrong here, just as Apple didn't.
    You're assuming a lot.  First of all, Law and Order is a show about the criminal justice system.  Most importantly, you can't use the civil discovery process unless you file a lawsuit against another party.  Anton is correct, you can ask, but not compel Apple to produce anything, and it would be absurd for any company to respond to such a request. 
  • Reply 11 of 15
    nhtnht Posts: 4,391member
    adm1 said:
    Marvin said:
    lkrupp said:
    Didn’t they start out saying they would take Apple down because of their patents?
    It would be best if Apple could buy them out rather than have their IP going to a competitor. Market cap is ~£400m ($500m).
    If Apple does not need their IP (as is suggested), then it would be money wasted. $500m is a hefty price to pay to simply stop a competitor having supposedly inferior and old IP which they already probably have access to via licensing.
    Huh? No competitor wants Imagination Technologies' IP. Imagination Technologies IP is only used in Apple products. Everyone else uses totally different tech from the likes of Nvidia, AMD, Intel, Qualcomm etc. They even use different software and APIs to interact with the GPUs, such as DirectX for Microsoft and Vulkan for Android and Linux. The tech is totally, radically different - a whole different track and way of doing things really - that for the competition to incorporate Imagination's IP they would basically have to start from scratch. And why? Even if one were to have the opinion that Apple's GPUs are better than the competition, adopting Apple's GPU tech wouldn't cause a single MacBook, iPad or iPhone owner to switch to Windows or Android, because of all the reasons to choose Apple over the competition, graphics is among the least. Especially if one were to look at the absolutely beautiful Samsung Galaxy graphics, or the graphics on the high end Dell and Lenovo gaming and engineering/design workstations. Again, argue that Apple's own graphics are better if you want, I won't disagree, but claiming that Imagination has anything to offer that Nvidia or Samsung wants or needs is two totally different things. "The competition" may want to hire Imagination's engineers because, hey, good design engineers are an excellent asset to any organization. Apple agrees, which is why they hired Imagination's engineers, and why they hire engineers from "the competition" all the time. But that would be the beginning and end of it.
    1) Until 2013 Samsung used PowerVR in their Exynos line (currently using Mali) and the rumor was that they were going back to PowerVR in the next Exynos.  Samsung would definitely bid on Imagination Tech IP.
    2) Vulkan runs on both iOS and OS X.

    Any other dumb assess assertions you'd like disproved?
    edited June 2017
  • Reply 12 of 15
    melgrossmelgross Posts: 31,366member
    Intel owns a small portion of the company too. I believe that IG is based on some of Imagination's IP as well.
  • Reply 13 of 15
    jbdragonjbdragon Posts: 1,992member
    Marvin said:
    lkrupp said:
    Didn’t they start out saying they would take Apple down because of their patents?
    Likely out of desperation, knowing how much their business depended on them. Their earnings are here:

    https://www.imgtec.com/investors/reports/
    http://cdn2.imgtec.com/AnnualReports/IMG_Annual-Report_2016.pdf

    2016: £141m revenue, £25m loss, £33m debt.

    "There are no parties with whom the Group has contractual or other arrangements which are essential to the business of the Group except the contract with Apple Inc.

    PowerVR and MIPS make profits after taking into account direct engineering costs, PowerVR makes profits after allocating central overheads, MIPS did not. The other 4 units (Ensigma, IMGworks, Pure and IMG Systems) make substantial losses before any central costs are allocated."

    They shipped 456m PowerVR units in the 12 months before April 2016. Apple ships ~250m iOS devices every year so they were likely responsible for more than half their revenue and likely their most profitable customer, hence the massive drop in stock price on announcing they weren't using them any more.

    They may have patents but what would they pay the legal team with?

    PowerVR has done a lot to help Apple's products get where they are, the sustained graphics performance has really set them apart from their competition and they've been a partner with Apple for a decade now. It would be best if Apple could buy them out rather than have their IP going to a competitor. Market cap is ~£400m ($500m).
    Well those other company's relying on PowerVR would be mad if Apple took over as they would be cut off. Would any of the IP be of value to Apple? Only they would know as they're working on the new GPU. If it's not using any of the IP's, then it's not worth anything to Apple. Apple has been working on this for a few years at least and it has always been Apple's plan. First CPU, next GPU. Part of the way there is METAL.
  • Reply 14 of 15
    MarvinMarvin Posts: 14,200moderator
    jbdragon said:
    Well those other company's relying on PowerVR would be mad if Apple took over as they would be cut off. Would any of the IP be of value to Apple? Only they would know as they're working on the new GPU. If it's not using any of the IP's, then it's not worth anything to Apple. Apple has been working on this for a few years at least and it has always been Apple's plan. First CPU, next GPU. Part of the way there is METAL.
    It's not just the IP itself, the company includes the people who made it. Some of them are former Apple engineers. Their expertise can be used on future designs and there would be no issues with migrating from the old GPUs to the new. Imagination said Apple would "no longer use the Group’s intellectual property in its new products in 15 months to two years time" so it definitely sounds like their own design doesn't rely on their IP and would show up in 2018/2019:

    https://www.imgtec.com/news/press-release/discussions-with-apple-regarding-license-agreement/

    "Apple has asserted that it has been working on a separate, independent graphics design in order to control its products and will be reducing its future reliance on Imagination’s technology.

    Apple has not presented any evidence to substantiate its assertion that it will no longer require Imagination’s technology, without violating Imagination’s patents, intellectual property and confidential information. This evidence has been requested by Imagination but Apple has declined to provide it.

    Further, Imagination believes that it would be extremely challenging to design a brand new GPU architecture from basics without infringing its intellectual property rights, accordingly Imagination does not accept Apple’s assertions."

    Apple could use AMD for this. AMD suggested this a while ago:

    https://www.kitguru.net/components/graphic-cards/anton-shilov/amd-will-explore-graphics-ip-licensing-opportunities-going-forward/

    NVidia does mobile graphics like in the Nintendo Switch and TV boxes. AMD doesn't have any presence in mobile GPU hardware yet. If they could come up with an efficient design, that could provide them some much needed profit. The license revenue isn't much but if they just have to come up with a design and Apple manufactures it, it's low risk.

    The following article suggests Apple is building its own team but is far from a completed product:

    http://appleinsider.com/articles/17/04/10/apple-posts-gpu-related-job-openings-in-uk-following-imagination-breakup

    "In the listing for the Engineering Program Manager posted on March 29, the posting mentions a "newly formed graphics design team" that would work on the "definition of the architecture, spec, design, and verification of graphics IP from concept through to silicon.""

    If the team is just being formed, how can they know their eventual design won't have any similarity to Imagination's? It would be a bad situation if one of Apple's competitors bought up Imagination, Apple manufactured an infringing design and they weren't able to ship the products. It just seems like the safer option would be to buy up the IP and the team behind it and have them work on the new IP. They already know what they're doing and have delivered industry leading designs for Apple for 10 years. Building a new team from scratch seems a lot more risky when it's something as essential to the device as the GPU.

  • Reply 15 of 15
    jensonbjensonb Posts: 528member
    I still can't comprehend how Imagination can:

    A/ Assert that it is impossible for Apple to engineer its own architecture without infringing on Imagination's IP - how broad do they think their IP is?
    B/ Expect anyone to take them seriously when they demand Apple demonstrate otherwise (what possible reason could oblige Apple to prove this to them?)
    C/ Seriously be acting like their rights are being infringed by a product that has not even yet been announced, let alone released - they themselves admit to having seen or heard nothing about the technology in question from Apple (hence their demand to) but they remain adamant it is infringing regardless. Which is it, Imagination? You can't both be in the dark and know for sure they've stolen your tech.

    I fell like this whole thing is nothing more than an effort on Imagination's part to manipulate Apple into buying them out just to eliminate the hassle as a way of bailing themselves out of the inevitable consequences of losing Apple as a customer whom they have become too dependent on.
    edited June 2017
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