TI OMAP Texas Instruments is reportedly looking to scale back its investment in the OMAP processors for smartphones, tablets, and other mobile devices. Those happen to be the processors that power every Amazon Kindle Fire tablet that’s been released to date, so the move would leave Amazon with a few choices.

The company could look for a new chipset for future tablets, stick with a platform that TI only seems partially invested in, or buy the OMAP business from Texas Instruments. According to reports circulating this week, Amazon is looking at that last option pretty seriously.

Israeli site Calcalist.co.il reports that Amazon is in “advanced negotiations” with TI.

At this point, we’re still looking at an unconfirmed rumor — neither Amazon nor Texas Instruments has said anything about the matter. But the move would certainly make a lot of sense for Amazon.

It could also be bad news for competitors including Barnes & Noble. The retailer’s NOOK line of Android tablets also use TI OMAP processors.

via The Next Web


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8 replies on “Is Amazon planning to buy TI’s OMAP chip business?”

  1. Umm, last I checked OMAP was just a ARM licensed core, not specially developed IP. The company was deliberately trying to hold onto the DSPs and decode which they added which made the unit special since they need that to continue on with the integrated play that they’re leaving the commercial space to pursue. So what does buying OMAP get Amazon that it couldn’t get simply by licensing any other stock ARM core? Some knowledge of ARM infrastructure? They could get the same thing by continuing their current path of having an OEM build their products for them.

    This rumor doesn’t make ANY sense on almost any level. The Kindle software stack is still based on Gingerbread. ARM hardware is pretty much commoditized. The smart play here would be to worry about improving the software and building up their ecosystem. The hardware is largely irrelevant to that experience as they pretty much proved with the initial Kindle Fire which was pretty cheap in all the negative ways that word can mean. They don’t make money selling hardware, they make money because what they are selling is a vending machine where they make money on each sale. So focusing on the UX instead of hardware makes a LOT more sense.

    If they loose sight of that they will ultimately be crushed and they will burn bridges and alienate sales partners doing it.

    1. To clarify TI was planning on leaving the consumer space to focus on integrated commercial designs, or that’s what their press release said when they announced the effective death of OMAP.

    2. OMAP is the entire platform and not just the ARM core it uses.

      Anyway, there isn’t confirmation that Amazon is just buying the technology. They could be buying the entire division from TI (ie. IP, employees and other physical resources). Kind of like how Lenovo bought IBM’s entire personal computing division.

      As for if this is a good business decision, I don’t know. I’m not a CEO of a large corporation.

  2. You seem to be assuming that Amazon would refuse to sell OMAP processors to Barnes and Noble. This is unlikely for two reasons. First, it would be silly to turn down profitable business orders and second, if Amazon deliberately stuck it to B&N in an effort to kill their business, they could have some antitrust issues to deal with down the road.

    In any case, there are plenty of examples of corporations who sell components to put in the systems of competitors — Apple has been using Samsung chips for years in spite of intense competition between them in the smartphone market. (Yes, the relationship may be at a breaking point now, but that’s after years of acrimonious law suits.)

    The bottom line is that Amazon would almost certainly continue to sell OMAP processors to anyone who wants to buy them, including Barnes and Noble. B&N might want to look elsewhere in the long term for strategic reasons, but they’re not going to suddenly have to redesign their tablet innards if Amazon does by the OMAP tech.

    1. Apple doesn’t use Samsung chips. Apple designs chips and contracts with Samsung to manufacture them. The Apple A5 and A6 chips don’t show up in any devices that aren’t made by Apple.

      Likewise, it’s conceivable that Amazon could manufacture chips that would only be used in Amazon products.

      I’m sure antitrust regulators would at least look into the matter, but since there are plenty of other places for B&N to go for processors, I’m not sure they’d necessarily kill this sort of deal even if Amazon did decide to keep OMAP in-house.

      That’s not to say that Amazon *will* buy the chip business, that it *won’t* allow others to purchase/use its chip designs, or that regulators *wouldn’t* have problems with the deal.

      I could just see this going a lot of different ways.

      1. Actually, Apple does — they source their memory chips from Samsung. Yeah, it’s not the processor chips, but it’s the same principle — competitors at retail who deal with each other for components of their devices.

        Regarding antitrust — Amazon would have to be careful not to treat B&N any differently from their other OMAP customers. Otherwise, there should be no problem, including Amazon designing their own chips for their exclusive use.

        I’m sure B&N would likely transition away from any Amazon built tech (unless they continue to get the best deal there) in the long run, I just don’t think they really have that much to worry about.

  3. Given that there are several other ARM processor vendors, it would not be a disaster for Amazon or its competitor if OMAP disappeared, but it would cost them some resources to re-engineer their hardware designs for another processor.

    Same thing if Amazon buy OMAP: it would save time and resources to amazon but it would not be a big blow to its competitors.

    Most software runs on Android nowadays and Android runs fine on Tegra, Exynos, Snapdragon, Rockchip etc… On the software side I uspect that it is mostly a matter of changing drivers…

    1. OMAP is a bog standard ARM licensed Cortex A9 core which IS the core in the Tegra line, Rockchip, and I believe Xynos. Snapdragon is it’s own IP but it’s still implementing the standard ARMv7 ISA. That is all a long winding way of agreeing whole heartily with you. They get VERY little for buying OMAP especially since they’re neither designing the hardware or assembling it. I don’t understand the premise of this rumor, and honestly if Amazon does do this, I think they’re crazy and losing focus on where they make their money. Then again in retrospect except for trying to jump start the low end tablet market to get more devices into more people’s hands… The whole Kindle Fire thing didn’t make a ton of sense to begin with.

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