Sony heads to Israel for IoT boost, acquires chipset maker Altair

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Could the future of the Internet of Things (IoT) be in Israel?

Sony Corp. announced that it has agreed to acquired Israel-based Altair Semiconductor Ltd. for $212 million. Altair is a developer of high-performance, single-mode, Long Term Evolution (LTE) chipsets, and this acquisition will help Sony delve deeper into the IoT space.

It has been predicted that Internet-connected devices will reach 50 billion by 2020, and this market opportunity is something any consumer electronics maker wants in on.

“More and more ‘things’ are expected to be equipped with cellular chipsets, realizing a connected environment in which ‘things’ can reliably and securely access network services that leverage the power of cloud computing,” Sony said in the statement.

Silicon Wadi

Not many may know that Israel has its own version of Silicon Valley called Silicon Wadi. Wadi is an Arabic word pertaining to a valley or dry river bed, and it has been commonly used in colloquial Hebrew. Silicon Wadi is literally the Silicon Valley of Israel and the center of tech innovation in the country.

Over the years, many tech companies have turned to Israel to boost its tech startup community. Facebook acquired Onavo, Inc., a service that allows for lesser data consumption when browsing using a mobile device, for an estimated $150-$200 million; Google acquired crowdsourced mapping service Waze, Inc. for an estimated amount of $1 billion; IBM acquired transaction fraud prevention company Trusteer, Inc. for an estimated $800 million to $1 billion; and Apple acquired 3D motion tracking tech company PrimeSense Ltd. for $350 million.

Now acquisitions are turning to IoT tech.

In Innovation Endeavors’ 2015 Israeli Internet of Things Landscape, it was revealed that there are about 330 Israeli IoT startups that are focusing on the country’s unique strength in healthcare, science and cyber security.

Some of the recent acquisitions related to IoT companies in Israel include ARM Holdings’ acquisition of Sansa Security, Inc. in July 2015 to beef up its IoT security capabilities, as it complements ARM’s TrustZone technology and SecurCore processor IP. Another example is infotainment company HARMAN International Industries, Inc.’s acquisition of Red Bend Software, Inc. specifically for its Over-The-Air (OTA) software and firmware upgrading services.

As Innovation Endeavors puts it, IoT is not just a buzzword. Though it is still in its early stages in Israel, it’s already has a strong, real context for the country.

 Photo by tihanyitom (Pixabay)