Google acquires startup Agnilux, stirs Android tablet rumors

Google confirmed it acquired a stealth hardware company called Agnilux, fueling speculation that it is moving closer to porting its software platforms--including Android--to tablets. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Little is known about Agnilux, a Silicon valley startup that was formed by ex-PA Semiconductor chip designers. What makes the acquisition intriguing to those following Google is that PA Semi was acquired by Apple in 2008 for $280 million, and the company's chip technology is believed to be in Apple's A4 processor, which is used in the company's iPad tablet. 

The New York Times reported in February that Agnilux had a few ex-Cisco employees involved in its operations, and that it had a partnership with Cisco. At the time, Agnilux stayed mum on its plans. "We want to make a splash," company COO Mark Hayter told the Times. "We don't want our manufacturer to take our intellectual property before we're ready."

Now, the Times is reporting that, according to an unnamed source familiar with the deal, Google scooped up Agnilux not for chipset or hardware expertise but to get its software onto devices like tablets and set-top boxes. Google has stayed relatively quiet on the tablet front, though some companies, such as Archos, have shipped tablets running Android.

Chris DiBona, Google's open source program manager, said at the Linux Foundation Collaboration Summit event in San Francisco earlier this month that he did not have anything to add to the subject. "I have no idea what our plans are about the tablet, and if I knew, I couldn't say," he said.

For more:
- see this PEHub article
- see this NYT article
- see this Network World article
- see this eWeek article

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