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January 26, 2016updated 31 Aug 2016 9:38am

Sony continues IoT drive with Altair Semiconductor buyout

News: Altair Semiconductor's LTE chips will be combined with Sony's sensors to make IoT components.

By Alexander Sword

Sony has acquired Altair Semiconductor, a chip manufacturer based in Israel, as part of its ongoing strategy to build its component business.

The acquisition for $212 million is set to be completed in early February 2016, and will add modern chip technology and related software for LTE.

Sony plans to combine Altair‘s modern chip technology with its own sensing technologies to build cellular-capable component devices.

These will target the wearable and IoT segments, which will require components that can both sense and communicate.

It will also aim to expand Altair’s existing business.

Sony said in a statement that no material impact was expected on Sony’s financial results for the fiscal year ending 31 March 2016.

The move follows Sony’s acquisition of Toshiba’s semiconductor fabrication facilities in early December 2015. Sony paid 19 billion yen ($153.9 million at the time) for Toshiba’s 300mm wafer production line at its Oita Operations facility.

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In October, Sony announced that its semiconductor operations would be split off into a separate company, called Sony Semiconductor Solutions Corporation.

The divestment reflects a shift away from Sony’s struggling device business towards a greater reliance on image sensors; Sony’s Devices business, including image sensors saw sales increase 7.4 percent year-on-year to $2.15 billion in Q2 2016.

In those results, Sony saw total revenues of $15.773 billion, a small fall of 0.5 percent year-on-year. The operating profit was $733 million, while sales in the mobile communications segment, including smartphones, decreased 15.2 percent year-on-year.

It is as yet unclear whether Sony will eventually spin off its smartphone unit and focus entirely on manufacturing components.

In 2014, Sony sold off its PC decision to focus on smartphones.


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