As noted here & here last week, the Israeli business daily Calcalist has been tracking the story of Apple's purported buyout of the flash/DSP technology company Anobit. Today the site reports that the deal is good to go, and that Anobit's employees are being told of the new ownership. To put an exclamation point on the transaction and the possible expansion of Apple's R&D efforts to a new facility near Haifa, the official Twitter account of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu issued a welcome to Apple today. In the odd-coincidence department, today is the 15th anniversary of Apple's 1996 acquisition of NeXT and the return of Steve Jobs.
Given the reported US$500 million price tag on the acquisition (Apple 2.0 notes that's more than the inflation-adjusted price Apple paid for NeXT, and may represent the largest single purchase by Apple of another firm), the value Apple places on moving Anobit's technology in-house must be pretty high. GigaOM laid out the case for ownership last week; since Anobit's tech makes cheaper flash memory reliable & long-lived enough for high-end devices, it's a key capability for Apple's light and portable product line. Anobit's engineering is already adding to Apple's product line via inclusion in the iPhone, iPad and MacBook Air -- that graphic up there comes from Anobit's news page, and even with the logos filed off the gear it's pretty obvious what those 'mystery products' actually are.
While 2011 hasn't seen many big Apple acquisitions of smaller companies, 2010 was extremely busy by comparison. After buying LaLa at the end of 2009, last year's shopping list included SIRI, Poly 9, Intrinsity, C3 Technologies, IMSense, Quattro Wireless and Polar Rose. Apple also sold off Agnilux to Google in 2010. Apple's fiscal year 2011 ended in September with the company reporting over $81 billion in cash and marketable securities, which is the very definition of "war chest."
If Apple does expand its R&D facilities to the Haifa area, it's another bit of good news in a remarkable week for Israel's Technion university. The technical institute, which anchors Israel's version of Silicon Valley, is also partnering with Cornell University to launch New York City's future 'superschool' and technology incubator on the city's underdeveloped Roosevelt Island.