The Internet of Things (IoT) vendor ecosystem is booming in 2016, and serious money is being pumped into M&As and industry partnerships. IoB looks at the ten top IoT acquisitions of the year so far.
Cisco buys out Jasper
In February, Cisco announced it would be buying privately-held firm Jasper Technologies for a wallet-busting $1.4bn (£960 million).
Jasper Technologies is an IoT start-up which provides a cloud-based platform through which customers can deploy and manage their IoT devices. The devices connect via mobile networks and Jasper says that customers can monitor these in real-time on a 24/7 basis.
The firm currently has around 5,000 enterprise customers, according to Cisco, with Jasper saying that its services enable companies to create new business models that transform their products and generate new sources of ongoing revenue.
Experts say this acquisition – which followed shortly after the network giant bought analytics database player Parstream – gives Cisco a unique IoT platform, with deep links already in the automotive space for SIM-card equipped devices.
“Cisco’s being trying to get into IoT space for years….and this provides them with one fell swoop into the IoT connectivity business, whilst also potentially strong relationships with mobile operators all around the world,” said Beecham Research founder and analyst, Robin Duke-Wooley.
Microsoft acquires Solair
Microsoft’s acquisition of IoT service provider Solair raised eyebrows, but the Italian firm does have specialist links in a variety of sectors.
Solair’s IoT customisation and deployment solutions are built on Microsoft’s Azure cloud platform and help enterprises track their products, capture data and improve profitability.
“I think the key to this acquisition is that Solair has been delivering innovative Internet of Things (IoT) services to customers across industries, including manufacturing, retail, food & beverage and transportation,” said IoB contributing editor and technology adviser Jan Maciejewski.
“This acquisition supports the Microsoft strategy to deliver a more complete IoT offering for enterprises.
“One example is that Solair has improved the Rancilio Group’s supply chain efficiency by using IoT on its full line of espresso machines, allowing the Italian manufacturer to remotely monitor machines. Using the power of cloud-based data and analytics, Solair has helped the Rancilio Group reduce costs and increase revenue.
Nokia buys Withings
Finnish tech firm Nokia has had a troubling time of late, selling out its struggling handset business to Microsoft and turning instead to services (where it has enjoyed relative success with its ‘Here’ mapping applications).
Now though, the firm is moving into the digital health market. Its investment firm has announced a $350 million IoT venture fund, while Nokia acquired digital health company Withings earlier this year.
Softbank takes on ARM
Japanese conglomerate Softbank caused a stir last month, when it acquired Cambridge-based chip designer ARM, a move which many see as its attempt to dive headfirst into the IoT market.
“Softbank also wants to be a world player in the IoT space, and it’s very regional at the moment in Japan,” said Duke-Wooley.
“What they’ve been focused on up until now is mobile operator, but this gives them access to edge devices everywhere.
“ARM is obviously strong iPhones and mobile phones but they have been putting a lot into IoT edge devices as the next step. Softbank wants to be part of the market internationally and will put more money into ARM going forward.”
ARM gets Apical before own acquisition
Before Softbank gobbled-up ARM, the chip designer made a telling deal of its own, paying $350 million in cash to purchase Apical, a firm which manufactures technology for analyzing images.
Computer vision is in the early stages of development but ARM says that embedded computer vision technology will enable intelligent devices to deliver new user experiences.
“Apical specializes in embedded computer vision and the acquisition will enable ARM to accelerate its expansion into new IoT-related markets, including connected devices,” said Maciejewski.
Kore and Wyless join forces
In March, it was announced that Kore Wireless Group would buy Wyless Group in an all-cash transaction (financial details were not disclosed).
The new combined company will be supported by a staff of more than 350 team members, maintain a customer base of more than 3,000 B2B companies globally and serve in excess of six million subscribers on behalf of those customers.
As a result of this deal, the new organization becomes one of the six largest providers of M2M/IoT services globally, inclusive of carriers.
Duke-Woolley adds: “Wyless is much stronger in Europe so Kore is trying to establish a base in Europe.
“We’ve got to the stage where a reseller is now as a big as business – and in some cases bigger – than a mobile operator operating in the M2M market.
“The new Kore has more than six million connections, that gives them a pretty much good size – they are about $180 million in turnover now. It has given them scale across two continents.”
“Basically, they are providing an alternative to mobile operators as a IoT reseller, and they (Kore) are determined to go up the value chain. Connectivity is clearly the main focus – and has been for some time – but they are determined to get into application enablement.”
Cypress Semiconductor takes Broadcom’s IoT business
Two months ago, Cypress Semiconductor announced the acquisition of Broadcom’s wireless Internet of Things business and all related assets in a $550 million transaction.
As part of Broadcom’s IoT business, Cypress gets the company’s Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and ZigBee IoT product lines and IP, as well as its WICED brand and developer ecosystem.
The acquisition is expected to help Cypress strengthen its position in key embedded systems markets, such as automotive and industrial, and help it tap into the high-growth consumer IoT market.
Sony taps Altair
In February, Sony closed on the acquisition of Altair Semiconductor for $212 million.
Altair, an Israeli-based company, makes chips connecting devices to LTE, which is used to connect objects such as fitness trackers and sensors to the Internet of Things.
Sony said it will combine Altair’s business — specifically its modem chips — with Sony technology, including its Global Navigation Satellite System and image sensors.
Sony’s purchase will help it get up to speed in competing with companies such as Intel and Nokia, which are collaborating on technology called Narrow-Band LTE for IoT.
UK cyber-security firm Bullguard acquired Israel-based start-up Dojo-Labs for an undisclosed sum this month.
Bullguard is the consumer security company which offers clients web-based identity and social media protection.
Dojo-Labs, which launched in November 2015, claims to provide consumer security and privacy for Internet of Things devices in a connected home.
“The acquisition is part of Bullguard’s plans to expand its collection of security products to the Internet of Things,” said Maciejewski.
“Although this is a consumer based company, it remains to be seen if this acquisition takes Bullguard into the enterprise arena as well, particularly with its social media offering and the increased use of BYOD.”
Amazon Web Services and NICE
In February, Amazon Web Services, the cloud computing arm of Amazon, acquired NICE, a software developer for technical computing.
Headquartered in Asti, Italy, NICE delivers products and solutions to customers which help customers to optimize and centralize their high performance computing (HPC) and visualization workloads while also providing tools for distributed workforces making use of mobile devices.
What does this mean for IoT? Well, simply put, this is a sign Amazon is moving AWS to processing even bigger data and faster – a key requirement in an IoT age where sensors can be transmitting thousands of messages in minutes.
…So, what do these IoT acquisitions mean for the ecosystem?
Analysts say these IoT acquisitions illustrate a growing market, with interest at all layers of the ecosystem from the hardware to the connectivity and beyond.
“It illustrates that the IoT is a wide and varied thing and not focused on one particular level. Its throughout. You’ve got connectivity, the various levels of software and the edge devices,” says Duke-Wooley.
“There should be more activity on connectivity, then up the stack as added value.”
Maciejewski added: “No single supplier is capable of delivering an all-encompassing IoT solution and it is inevitable that more and more partnerships, mergers and IoT acquisitions will take place.
“It is estimated that somewhere between 30-40 percent of an IoT network’s value is in platforms and with so many providers we can see further acquisition and consolidation as everyone tries to get a bigger slice of the pie.
“Also, the connectivity service suppliers in the mobile space will need to get more and more creative with their offerings to develop their positions, revenue and share in IoT”.
Want to find out more about the IoT acquisitions and the IoT M&A market? Come along to IoT Invest to hear from Cisco about integrating Jasper, Kore on buying Wyless and Tele2 on the importance of partnerships. Email [email protected] for more details.