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HTC Purchases Graphics Veteran S3 To Block Apple?

Taiwanese smartphone manufacturer HTC has announced that it is buying VIA's stake in S3 Graphics which the press release says is "a leading provider of innovative graphics visualization technologies used in PCs, game consoles and mobile devices".

Obviously those in the tech trade for long enough will remember that S3 used to manufacture graphic chipsets towards the end of the last century, before being purchased by VIA in 2001 after S3 filed for bankruptcy.

We fondly remember the likes of the Savage 3D and the S3 Trio range which were part of the cheap and cheerful range but ultimately failed because of poor performance and driver support.

HTC purchased all the outstanding shares of S3 graphics for $300 million which is a tad less than the $323 million VIA paid for S3. VIA's Tzu-mu Lin, Senior Vice President and Board Director, said, "The transaction would allow VIA to monetize a portion of its rich IP portfolio, yet retain its graphics capabilities to support the development and sale of its processors and chipsets".

We've got a hunch as to why HTC would be interested in S3 given that the latter is not a major player in the field of mobile graphics, currently dominated by Imagination Technology Power VR range and ARM's Mali.

The acquisition comes only a few days after Apple was found guilty of infringing two patents owned by S3 Graphics which covered IP found in SoC used in iOS Devices (iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch, Apple TV).

A final decision from a six-member panel will be delivered in November and a win for S3 Graphics could mean an exclusion order that would see ALL iOS-based products banned from the US. S3 already licenses its IP to other technology companies like Microsoft, Nintendo and Sony.

Désiré Athow

Désiré has been musing and writing about technology during a career spanning four decades. He dabbled in website building and web hosting when DHTML and frames were en vogue and started writing about the impact of technology on society just before the start of the Y2K hysteria at the turn of the last millennium. Following an eight-year stint at where he discovered the joys of global tech-fests, Désiré now heads up TechRadar Pro. Previously he was a freelance technology journalist at Incisive Media, Breakthrough Publishing and Vnunet, and Business Magazine. He also launched and hosted the first Tech Radio Show on Radio Plus.