Blowing this week’s pocket money in one place, Samsung has picked up Cambridge Silicon Radio, designer and developer of mobile connectivity semiconductor systems. Besides the acquisition of whatever technologies the company has and is in the process of developing, there will also be the benefit of the patent horde that is undoubtedly part of the deal.
Cambridge Silicon Radio (CSR) provides numerous technologies for multifunction connectivity, audio products and location platforms, supporting Bluetooth, GPS, FM broadcasting, WiFi, audio, near field communications and ARM processors. OEMs using CSR technologies include Samsung, Motorola, HTC, Nokia, Sennheiser and Creative among others.
As Apple ramps up its innovation through litigation, such defensive acquisitions by its competitors will continue to happen in the mobile market place. Although Apple is rumoured to take 70%+ of the profit in the smartphone space, its share price, and thus its market capitalization, requires heady growth to remain at its stratospheric levels, currently a nudge over US$600 a share. So the iDevice maker’s “thermonuclear” legal behaviour is designed to keep it from losing even greater share of the market that’s its undeniable cash cow.
Surprisingly perhaps, Apple continues to use Samsung, its archenemy in the smartphone arena, to fabricate its systems on a chip. The only logical reason for doing so would be that nobody else is capable of delivering the quality and the numbers Apple needs, and until Taiwan Semiconductor (Apple’s SOC-maker-in-waiting) gets its stuff together, the ignominy of being beholden to its enemy must surely stick firmly in Apple’s craw.
Stephen Woo, Samsung’s spokesperson commented that… "By leveraging CSR's research and development capability, Samsung will strengthen its application processor platform”. Since Samsung isn’t short of SOC design and development prowess itself, one might well suspect that the statement is code for “strengthen its patent arsenal”.
Meanwhile, Samsung’s coffers fill a little more with every iPhone and iPad that Apple sells, which cannot please even the world’s most profitable tech company. It seems that there can simply never be enough profit to satisfy Apple’s appetite.