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Sony Strengthens Internet of Things Business with Acquisition

Tim Maytom

altairSony has acquired Israeli firm Altair Semiconductor for $212m (£149m) with the aim of developing its Internet of Things business and strengthening its ability to compete with firms like Apple and Samsung.

Altair makes chips that connect devices to LTE, which are used in everything from security alarms to electricity meters to connect to mobile networks and provide information to users, as well as enabling devices to be operated remotely via app.

In addition to smartphones, LTE can be used to connect objects to each other, forming the Internet of Things. While most smart devices currently use wi-fi or Bluetooth, LTE is emerging as an alternative as an existing infrastructure is already in place, and the technology is just as low-power and versatile as others.

Intel, Ericsson and Nokia are also working on cellular standards for the Internet of Things, and the acquisition of Altair will place Sony in a strong position to compete as the smart home becomes an increasing battleground for large tech firms.

The acquisition also marks Sony resuming investment in chip technology, which it had avoided for several years, prompted by strong sales of its camera sensors which have helped turn this unit of its business around in the last few years.

Sony has said that it will continue to expand Altair's business and combine it with the company's own technology, including its Global Navigation Satellite System and image sensors to "develop a new breed of cellular-connected, sensing component device".

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