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Apple Buys Share of Chipmaker

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Apple Inc. (Nasdaq: AAPL) has bought a stake in a company that makes semiconductors for mobile phones, portable media players, and other consumer electronics, increasing Apple's investment in chipmakers with technology that could fit in the company's iPhone and iPod product lines.

The investment, amounting to 8.2 million shares of Imagination Technologies Group plc , is roughly a 3.6% stake in the U.K. company, Imagination said in a statement released Thursday. Apple paid 58 cents a share, making the deal worth about $4.8 million.

Apple is a licensee of Imagination's technology, which could play a bigger role in Apple products in the future as a result of the investment. Apple was not immediately available for comment and rarely if ever discusses future product releases.

Imagination makes semiconductors for a variety of multimedia and communication applications, including digital radios, personal media players, car navigation systems, mobile Internet devices, ultramobile PCs, digital televisions, and set-top boxes. Apple products that could use such technology include the iPhone 3G, iPod Touch, and Apple TV.

It's not the first time Apple has put its money into chips. In April, the company bought PA Semi, a maker of low-power PowerPC processors. PA Semi designs the products, but manufacturing is outsourced.

Industry veteran Dan Dobberpuhl founded the 150-person PA Semi in 2003. Dobberpuhl is the acclaimed lead designer of the DEC Alpha series of microprocessors, the StrongARM microprocessor, and the first multicore systems on chip with the SIByte 1250.

— Antone Gonsalves, InformationWeek

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