For reasons outlined in the article Dialog might instead go for a software acquisition such as Movea SA of Grenoble (www.movea.com) through which it can offer value to the handset makers without getting involved in the delivery of the punishingly low-cost inertial MEMS.
Those inertial MEMS are really a game for manufacturers such as ST and Bosch and even they are looking to get into higher ASP MEMS.
I reckon that if Dialog does acquire a MEMS hardware company it should be in one of the newer areas where there is room to charge a decent ASP and grow with the market. So that might be RF MEMS, oscillator MEMS, or gas sensors, lab-on-a-chip and so on.
MEMS wil eventually lead to the evolution and revolution everyone has been waiting for. There are so many good opportunities in MEMS that any serious player will not pass away. However, MEMS is very challenging. It is not a business of the faint in heart. You need to be tough to design and succeed in it.
>> But anyone can get hold of a piece of the company by buying the publicly traded shares.
We have not seen that a lot in the electronics industry - buying the whole company. I do believe though that will happen. The margin for mistake is so low now that many players will exit in coming years. Technology has enabled faster disruption and that is bad news for the incumbents
Instead it tends to be companies like InvenSense ST that are packaging multiple MEMS, analog and CMOS die in one motion processor component, which may have pins to also take external accel, gyro or barometric inputs.
Others such as PNI Sensor and even Apple are producing digital motion processors that simply off load the sensor fusion work from the application processor. such DMPs have to be connected to the sensors as a hub. The risk for PNI (but not for Apple) is that the coprocessor being digital could simply get integrated out of existence in the next generation of application processor.
The third approach taken by some companies is to assert that their value-add is in the software and algorithms that turn raw data into the "opinion" that somebody just picked up the phone and the display should be switched on. The problem for them is ambiguity over who they are selling to, who makes the software decision
However, Dialog and others that already sell chips into mobile motherboards are in the position that they already have an analog, mixed-signal, HV die there and they can "sweep up" other functons (audio, LED driving, and so on) as they come into existence.
Given that Dialog is already an established supplier to Apple, that raises the intriguing possibility that the M7 motion coprocessor announced this week could be Dialog-based, with an ST(?) MEMS co-packaged. ST could handle the packaging side since they already stack MEMS on ASICs.