IoT Chip Designer ARM Called Most Important SoftBank Purchase

The Internet of Things is the driving force behind a significant new investment from Japanese mega-player SoftBank.

The tech investment company, which is responsible for backing and acquiring various international companies, just entered into an agreement to acquire semiconductor design company ARM for $32 billion.

Because of where ARM sits in the pipeline of technology development, essentially at the foundation of major consumer electronics brands, this infusion of cash and directed vision on IoT could have strong influence on the future of consumer electronics.

ARM designs the technology for consumer electronics, which can be found in 95% of smartphones currently on the market.

Compared to companies like Intel, which actually manufactures the parts, the U.K.-based ARM solely focuses on developing and designing the products and then licenses the designs to their clients.

Apple and Samsung are among the companies utilizing such designs in their products.

Smartphone technologies have been the primary focus of ARM, but experts have noted the company’s shift from a plateauing mobile market toward connected devices and IoT. That shift seems to be aligned with SoftBank’s vision for their future.

"This is one of the most important acquisitions we have ever made, and I expect ARM to be a key pillar of SoftBank's growth strategy going forward,” Masayoshi Son, SoftBank chairman and CEO, said about the acquisition.

"ARM will be an excellent strategic fit within the SoftBank group as we invest to capture the very significant opportunities provided by the Internet of Things.”

“The Softbank deal seems to be all about IoT,” said Caroline Gabriel of technology research company Rethink Research.

“This could accelerate the development of standardized IoT networks on which it can become a flagship service provider and a driver of the industry, Google-style.”

Some suggest this will bring a push toward smart appliances, such as connected refrigerators and washing machines, while others see this pushing further into smart cars.

“You’re getting into the Internet of Things, but also these semiconductors might be in the cars of the future,” reported Bloomberg News.

"As people talk about and look toward cars that drive themselves, the software that’s going to be required and the technology that’s going to be required is going to need a lot of the products that ARM makes. It’s not just the Internet of Things, it’s not just your home, it’s going to be whatever you’re driving around from here to there.”

After the acquisition, ARM will continue to operate independently with current CEO Simon Segars. SoftBank will also support and at least double the talent resources over the next five years, according to the agreement. 

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