Sony Builds Its Internet Of Things Business By Acquiring Altair Semiconductor

Sony Corporation announced today that it will acquire Altair Semiconductor for $212 million. Founded in 2005 by three former Texas Instrument executives, Israel-based Altair makes chips that connect devices to LTE and its technology will help develop Sony’s Internet of Things business.

In addition to smartphones, LTE is also used to connect objects in the Internet of Things, including fitness trackers, home appliances, and sensors . Right now, most smart things use bluetooth, and sometimes Wi-Fi, to get online because neither standard requires a lot of power. LTE, however, is emerging as an alternative because it is also low-power but can be used to connect many devices at once, making it a good option for enterprise use cases. Devices can also use existing LTE infrastructure, including networks owned by carriers, making it cost-effective to deploy.

Sony’s purchase of Altair will help it compete against other companies that are also working on cellular standards for the Internet of Things. These include Intel, Ericsson, and Nokia, which are collaborating on technology called Narrow Band-LTE (NB-LTE), which in turn competes with Narrow-Band Cellular IoT (NB-CIoT) from Huawei and Vodafone.

In a statement, Sony said it will continue to expand Altair’s business and also combine Sony technology, including its Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) and image sensors, with Altair’s modem chips to “develop a new breed of cellular-connected, sensing component devices.”

The acquisition is expected to close early next month and Sony says it will not have a material impact on the company’s financial results for 2016.