RealTime IT News

Qualcomm Buys Display Technology Startup

Qualcomm will shell out $170 million for Iridigm, a display technology outfit whose patented iMoD technology is based on a Micro-Electro-Mechanical-Systems (MEMS) structure combined with thin film optics.

Qualcomm said the acquisition is for the approximate 86 percent of Iridigm that it does not already own. The deal awaits SEC regulatory approval, and, Iridigm will become a wholly owned subsidiary of the wireless giant once it is complete.

Iridigm claims iMoD creates an image quality that is similar to reading a glossy magazine, even in sunlight. The company also said iMoD can withstand extreme temperatures, which benefits Qualcomm's enterprise product line, including its future color screens.

With the inclusion of color displays in all types of phones, including models at the low end of the market, the cost of the display has become an even more significant driver in the overall cost of the handset.

Qualcomm has been looking for a lower cost alternative to expensive LCD screens. The company said Iridigm's iMoD display should cost less to make than a comparable liquid crystal display (LCD) because it requires fewer processing steps to produce.

"The convergence of consumer electronics products, including cameras, MP3 players, camcorders, GPS receivers and game consoles, into wireless devices is driving the increased adoption of 3G CDMA," Paul Jacobs, Qualcomm executive vice president said in a statement. "Our acquisition of Iridigm will accelerate the time to market for the iMoD technology, which fits Qualcomm's overall strategy of rapidly increasing the capability of wireless devices while driving down cost, size and power consumption."

Qualcomm's recent partnership with LG Electronics is expected to align nicely with the Iridigm acquisition. Under the terms of that agreement, LG will develop new handsets to support Qualcomm's BREWChat push-to-talk technology.

Qualcomm and Iridigm are not strangers. Iridigm raised $25.6 million from investors, including Qualcomm, Gabriel Venture Partners, Intel Capital, Steamboat Ventures and VentureTech Alliance back in July.