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Apple snaps up Silicon Valley wireless chip company

Apple has acquired Silicon Valley-based wireless chip developer Passif Semiconductor for an undisclosed sum, reports Jessica Lessin.

Passif develops radio communication chips that are designed to use very little power, by using a low-energy version of Bluetooth called Bluetooth LE.

It is believed that Apple had previously moved to buy Passif a few years ago, but it has now managed to close a deal. Apple hasn't supplied too many comments about what it intends to do with the company and its staff.

An Apple spokeswoman simply told Lessin, “Apple buys small technology companies from time to time.”

The acquisition of a small chip firm will cause some waves of excitement among Apple watchers though, as it made the headlines recently when it turned back to fierce rival Samsung for the supply of main chips for future iPhone models.

As Lessin points out, "As technology companies pack more battery-draining features into smartphones, technologies that preserve and extend battery life are critical. Radios are some of the biggest battery drainers."

The acquisition could eventually prove to be a major one for Apple.

Passif was founded by Ben Cook and Axel Berny, who were PhD students at the University of California.

Venture capital firm Khosla Ventures had previously invested in Passif, reportedly to the tune of $1.6 million (£1 million) in 2008.