NEW YORK – Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) has made an ambitious move into motion-tracking technology with the acquisition of PrimeSense for a reported $ 350 million. The purchase will make Apple the de-facto supplier of the motion-tracking chip used in Microsoft’s Kinect game console.
Apple’s plans for PrimeSense are largely unknown at this point. According to Apple spokesperson, Kristin Huguet, ‘Apple buys smaller technology companies from time to time, and we generally do not discuss our purpose or plans.’
Since 2008, Apple has acquired several chip companies including P.A. Semi, Intrinsity, and Passif Semiconductor. The company also acquired another Israeli company, Anobit, last year in a bid to upgrade their flash-memory technology. Earlier this year, Apple also acquired navigation-software company Embark and online transit-navigation service HopStop.com, the business locations maps company Locationary, and WifiSLAM, which makes technology to identify when a smartphone user is inside a building.
Overall, the deal fits Apple’s partner of buying smaller, less well-known companies whose capabilities can easily be included in future products. In the case of PrimeSense, their technology can be used to give devices the ability to detect movements and objects. This can then be translated into depth and color.
While the $ 350 million deal has raised some eyebrows, Apple still has more than $ 140 billion in cash.
In related news, on Tuesday, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office awarded Apple a patent for a camera system that uses a microlens adaptor to refocus an image after the initial shot has been taken. While the technology could be used in future, iPhone or iPad releases it is currently unknown when, if ever, the technology will come to market. Though some analysts believe this would be a welcome upgrade to the iPhone’s camera capabilities as some users have trouble focusing on small screens. Perhaps most interesting is the possibility of a light-field video camera. Refocusable movies would be a great addition to the iPhone, which lacks tactile controls for focusing on the fly.
Lastly, Apple has promised a Black Friday to remember as the company has announced it will join in offering post-Thanksgiving discounts. The sale, billed by Apple, as ‘the Friday you’ve waited all year for’ will start online after midnight Pacific time – the company’s flagship stores will also be offering holiday discounts. The discounting is a sure sign that the market for iPhones and iPads has reached maturity, in lieu of major technological advances, which they are trying to achieve, it looks like this might be a trend that is set to continue.
Shares of Apple opened Wednesday, the last trading day before Thanksgiving at $ 533.40. Year-to-date, shares are up only .23 percent.