$400 million is not a small amount, especially to start-up. This Anobit should be a real hot stuff to the market so that Apple doesn't mind to pay such a big fortune. Able to improve the apparent endurance should is more worthy once this technology is well adopted in memory demanding systems that Apple surely will build.
I don't know exactly what Anobit do to improve memory endurance. But given the backgrounds of the founders in digital signal processing, and that their technology is called memory signal processing (MSP) I suspect they have some way of reading data back from memory cells and can tell about the likelihood of a cell failure. With this information is should be possible to push endurance closer to the edge.
They may also have worked out superior ways to encode data so that when a cell failure does occur they can recover the lost bit and move on.
Since Apple is already using their tech in all its products, I guess they are just blocking the IP so that competition wont get any hands on it. Good move.
btw the valuation is too good, for a 5 year old semi startup. shows that still there are ways to do a semi startup without burning a lot of VC cash.
The only reason Apple blocks IP is to stand in the way of innovation, which is not a "Good move" at all. In this time of global uncertainty they challenge anyone and everyone which could cause lots of people to lose their jobs, that is just selfish. The Patents laws need to be overhauled and there needs to some limitation on exercise patents just to screw people over.
Apple is actively participating in IC designing and slowly the may be interested in fab. It is good move as they have huge volume to support it. Alongwith acquisition, Apple should also make more efforts on innovation.