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Stacey Higginbotham’s Stacy On IOT newsletter reminded me of the recent consolidation of voice companies that are happening now. Last year, there were a slew of acquisitions around natural language understanding. This year, it’s the year of the chip. Synaptics acquired Conexant and now it’s the slow human centipede version of mergers by Broadcom of Qualcomm even before the deal with NXP is down. NXP had “merged” with Freescale but two years before and Avago had acquired Broadcom also around that time.

If Samsung, Apple, Amazon, or Google sell enough devices, then it might make sense for them to build and deploy their own chips and shave off potentially billions of dollars from their cost line. To the chip maker, getting bigger can buffer against one or more of their largest clients dumping them.

Looking far upstream where the innovation is happening, there might be some areas where technology companies will find themselves to be very attractive to chip makers looking to grow and differentiate through acquisition:

  • Wake word engines
  • Sound analysis
  • Emotion recognition
  • Sensor data collection
  • Media streaming
  • Embedded / low power assistants

Next year, companies working in these areas will be like last year’s NLU companies.

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