Smartphone chipmaker Qualcomm is in talks to acquire NXP Semiconductors "in the next two to three months," according to a report from the Wall Street Journal . The deal, which may cost Qualcomm over $30 billion, could be nearly as big as SoftBank's $32 billion buyout of ARM Holdings that was announced a couple of months ago.
NXP is one of the inventors of near-field communication (NFC), a technology primarily known for enabling wireless payment services like Apple Pay and Android Pay. NXP controllers are nearly ubiquitous in modern smartphones in both the iOS and Android ecosystems—the iPhone 6, 6S, and 7 all use NXP controllers, as do Android phones like the Galaxy S7 and Nexus 6P. The company is also a major player in the "Internet of Things" industry, and the acquisition of Freescale Semiconductor for $12 billion late last year made NXP "the world's top maker of automotive electronics."
Qualcomm has been pushing its own SoCs and modems for connected cars for a while now, and it announced a version of its Snapdragon 820 SoC specifically for connected cars earlier this year. NFC offers many different automotive products, including lower-level stuff like temperature sensors, power management controllers, and more. And while NXP does offer some ARM SoCs that could conceivably overlap with Qualcomm's own offerings, Qualcomm mostly sticks to high- and mid-end smartphone and tablet SoCs while NXP has more of a focus on extremely low-power solutions for integrated devices .
Qualcomm's revenues in recent years have been hit by the contracting of the high-end Android smartphone market, a couple of lackluster product launches, and most recently the loss of some of its iPhone modem business to Intel . NXP's financials seem solid—it has reported revenue growth in excess of 50 percent year-over-year in the first two quarters of 2016, though much of that probably comes from the addition of Freescale's business—and its products would mostly expand and complement Qualcomm's existing portfolio.