Amazon in talks to buy TI mobile chip arm: paper

SEATTLE, Mon Oct 15, 2012 – Amazon.Com Inc. is in advanced talks to buy the supplier of chips for its Kindle tablet computer, Israeli financial newspaper Calcalist reported on Monday, in what could mark a step in the company’s ambitions in the smartphone sector.

The report said any deal for the smartphone chip business of Texas Instruments Inc. would probably be worth billions of dollars and could make Amazon a direct rival to Apple Inc. and Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd., which also design their own chips.

“It would make sense, as the chip is a critical component and Amazon has an existing relationship with TI,” said Ovum analyst Nick Dillon.

TI’s chips are used in Amazon’s Kindle Fire tablet and Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos had underlined TI’s strength in the industry at the tablet’s recent launch.

“With the trend towards more vertical integration, led by Apple, speculation that Amazon is interested in TI’s chipset arm is unsurprising,” said Ben Wood, head of research at British wireless consultancy CCS Insight.

But some analysts questioned whether it would make sense for Amazon to spend billions on the business when many smaller and independent smartphone chip makers are reporting steep losses.

TI has flagged its plans to exit the business.

Gartner analyst Carolina Milanesi said she doubted whether Amazon wants to “become that intimately involved with hardware.”

TI said last month it would shift its wireless investment focus from products like smartphones to a broader market including industrial clients such as carmakers, where it is hoping for a more profitable and stable business.