Sunday, November 18, 2012
Should Google acquire TI's OMAP CPU program?
This week, yet another potential piece of the puzzle has potentially made itself available. Texas Instruments has announced the restructuring of the company to move away from the ultra competitive smartphone SoC market to focus on the more "profitable" vehicle and home appliance market. This also means they could possibly part ways with their OMAP ARM CPU program.
What does this mean to Google? Well TI has had a very close relationship over the years with both Motorola Mobility and Google. They powered almost every single Motorola DROID phone from the original DROID up until the DROID RAZR. OMAP processors were also the CPU of choice for the Samsung Galaxy Nexus, which was quite an odd move as Samsung and TI weren't very strong partners (and are in fact competitors in the SoC space).
Texas Instruments has also been a leader in terms of open sourcing the software related to their hardware in comparison to competitors Qualcomm, Nvidia and Samsung. This was part of the reason that TI was chosen for the Galaxy Nexus. This makes the case for a Google acquisition even stronger.
A report from the New York times suggests that production of the OMAP 5 Cortex-A15 chips is too far along to be affect by the restructuring but does leave future questions about products that were further down the pipeline.
At this point, an acquisition of the OMAP division fits incredibly well with Google's plans not to mention that it could get even more interesting from an integration point of view as well as an Intellectual Property/Patent point of view.
In the end, I would not be surprised of Google does make move for the OMAP program but I would advise Google to tread lightly. Vertical integration isn't how Android became what it is today. OEM innovation has been as important to the proliferation of Android as the improvements made with every new major software iteration. Another step towards a total vertical integration would potentially scare off even the most loyal Android OEMs.