Qualcomm reportedly puts Vuforia augmented reality business up for sale

According to a report from Re/code citing unnamed sources, Qualcomm (NASDAQ:QCOM) has put its augmented reality business, Vuforia, up for sale. The reported move comes just a few months after the company agreed to cut $1.4 billion in costs, slash up to 15 percent of its workforce, change some of its corporate practices and review whether to split up its chipset and licensing units.

According to Qualcomm, Vuforia is "supported by a global ecosystem of 175,000+ registered developers and has powered 20,000+ apps with more than 200 million app installs worldwide." The operation offers an SDK to developers that allows them to build Android and iOS apps that offer augmented reality (AR) services. Those using Vuforia include Wildlandia, McDonald's and others.

"When we create high-end AR experiences for our clients we're now hard-wired to default to the Vuforia platform," mobile app developer Happy Finish said on the Qualcomm Vuforia website. "We work in Unity3D a lot and Vuforia's Unity plug-in works seamlessly. It's simple to test and implement targets on the Vuforia platform and with the right targets created the AR is very solid."

Re/code notes that Qualcomm may sell its Vuforia business or spin it out into a separate, stand-alone company like it did with Gimbal, Qualcomm's former location beacon technology operation.

Qualcomm first announced the Vuforia brand for its augmented reality technology in early 2012. Later that year, the company boasted of "significant adoption" of the platform, with more than 1,000 AR apps launched with Vuforia.

In its fiscal third quarter Qualcomm reported that revenue fell 14 percent year-over-year to $5.8 billion. The company's net income in the period plunged 47 percent to $1.2 billion.

Although Qualcomm is shedding jobs and expenses, the company continues to invest in areas it believes are worthwhile. Just last month the company acquired chipmaker Ikanos Communications in an all-cash transaction valued at about $47 million. The purchase will boost Qualcomm's presence in the home gateway segment of the carrier fixed-line market.

As for Qualcomm's plans to potentially split its chipset and licensing units, Qualcomm President Derek Aberle sounded a cautionary note on the topic. "You have to step back and say why is that and would a separation actually solve whatever the underlying issues are that are creating the current valuation?" he told Reuters this week. "You have to be careful that it's not too simplistic an analysis."

For more:
- see this Reuters article
- see this Re/code article

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