The Israeli business publication Calcalist reported this week that Apple plans to site an innovation center (translation, original here) in the northern Israel city of Haifa, close to the country's leading technical university. The site points to a visit by Apple R&D VP Ed Frank to the area, and also notes that Apple appears to be in talks to acquire chip technology firm Anobit. We noted the Anobit deal murmurs on Tuesday.
The Anobit acquisition would be in line with Apple's other buyouts of companies like PA Semi, as it continues to pull critical chipmaking IP and capabilities in-house to ensure that mobile devices like the iPhone and iPad have the purpose-built silicon they need (and, not coincidentally, that competitors have a harder time getting those crucial parts). Anobit's technology concerns flash memory; Apple's devices use the lion's share of worldwide flash production.
Haifa's mayor, Yona Yahav, sounded more hopeful than certain when asked about the company locating its first non-Cupertino R&D center in his area: "The future arrival of Apple in Haifa would be a very great celebration and we would embrace them in the city." It's possible that the press push on the R&D center is just wishful thinking at this point, but if Apple does build out a facility there it would be in good company. Intel, Yahoo, IBM and other international tech firms have offices there, taking advantage of the talent pipeline coming from Technion. The Israeli technology institute is a rival to top US computer science schools like MIT, Carnegie Mellon and Stanford, but also maintains tight ties to the high-tech Israeli military establishment.