Intel scoops up wireless chipmaker

TORONTO (11/11/2003) - In an attempt to become the market leader in providing wireless silicon, Intel Corp. recently acquired Mobilian, a maker of dual-functionality wireless local area network (WLAN) and Bluetooth chipsets for an undisclosed amount.

According to an Intel spokesperson, the quiet deal, which closed Oct. 31, will enable Intel to enter the wireless networking chip market more quickly. The company has plans to incorporate certain Mobilian offerings including the Mobilian chipset, which offers integrated WLAN and Bluetooth for various computing platforms, namely wireless handhelds.

The Mobilian chipset would, for example, enable a cell phone user to make a voice call using Bluetooth technology to power the phone handset and use WLAN technology to stream the data over a wireless connection, the spokesperson said.

While the details of the acquisition are slim, Intel said Mobilian's approximately 70 employees in its Hillsborough, Ore., and Del Mar, Calif.-based offices will become part of Intel's Wireless Networking Group.

The acquisition did not come as a surprise to one industry analyst. John Yunker, analyst with Cambridge, Mass.-based Pyramid Research Group said Intel clearly sees itself bundling increased functionality onto its wireless chipsets.

"It is part of (Intel's) broader vision of betting big on wireless," Yunker said. "I think acquisitions generally make sense for them because they have been criticized for not having the expertise they need to compete effectively in this game."

Yunker explained that there is a market demand for Bluetooth on handsets due to the technology's low-power consumption versus Wi-Fi's power drain. He noted that Intel has expressed plans to get its chipsets into the handset market and in order to be successful, Intel would need Bluetooth support, which makes the Mobilian acquisition a smart move for the company.

Intel is keeping mum on further details surrounding the Mobilian buyout and has not announced a timeline for the would-be WLAN-Bluetooth integrated chipset.

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