Qualcomm solidifies its wireless play with CSR acquisition

Grabbing this player in Bluetooth products positions the company for IoT dominance.

Qualcomm made another big buy into wireless with the purchase of CSR Plc for $2.5 billion, giving the company an expert in Bluetooth and other wireless technologies and setting itself up to play a big part if the Internet of Things (IoT) takes off.

CSR, headquartered in London, had been in talks with Microchip Technology, an American maker of Bluetooth and other wireless chips as well, but the talks had stalled because Microchip's offer had been too low. CSR focuses on five areas: wireless audio technology; low-power Bluetooth; wireless automotive infotainment; location services via GPS, both indoors and outdoors; and document imaging.

It's the Bluetooth part that Qualcomm really wants, since low-power Bluetooth is seen as vital to making the Internet of Things work. The company made that pretty clear. "The addition of CSR’s technology leadership in Bluetooth, Bluetooth Smart1 and audio processing will strengthen Qualcomm’s position in providing critical solutions that drive the rapid growth of the Internet of Everything, including business areas such as portable audio, automotive and wearable devices," said Steve Mollenkopf, CEO of Qualcomm in a statement.

Qualcomm is the big cheese in mobile processing and wireless modem chips, but wireless connectivity was not its forte. The company seems to be interested in that segment, though. In May, it announced plans to acquire Wilocity, a maker a high-speed, long distance wireless format called WiGig. WiGig has data rates of up to 7 Gbps in the 60GHz range.

Qualcomm's chief rival Intel is making its own wireless push, with chipsets like WiDi, for high speed wireless display transfers, and it is working on wireless charging. The company also has an unusual object, the wireless charging bowl, and even envisions a time when PCs have no wires.

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