Silicon Labs buys leading ZigBee IC supplier, Ember
Texas-based wireless IC and module provider Silicon Labs has announced it is purchasing Ember Corporation for a sum of around $72 million. According to IMS Research’s, recently acquired by IHS Inc., report “The World Market for Low-Power Wireless – 2011 Edition”, Ember was estimated to be the market leader in ZigBee ICs for both 2009 and 2010 with a market share of over 30% for each year (in terms of unit shipments).
So what does this mean for the wireless industry? Well Silicon Labs has long been a provider of proprietary Sub-GHz ICs and modules serving a broad range of applications such as smart metering and home security. With the acquisition of Ember, Silicon Labs can now offer ZigBee ICs as well as full ZigBee modules (which utilize Ember ZigBee ICs), which will help Silicon Labs enter the ZigBee market.
This acquisition will also provide Silicon Labs with an introduction to the lighting market; Ember has traditionally had a strong focus on the smart energy space in addition to building and home automation. However, Ember recently achieved Gold Unit certification for the new ZigBee Light Link standard, which the ZigBee Alliance is promoting to provide an open wireless lighting control solution for the residential lighting market. At the recent Lightfair conference in Las Vegas a number of companies were demonstrating ZigBee Light Link systems, in addition to using other standards, such as ZigBee Building automation and ZigBee Home Automation for lighting control.
Lighting control is projected to be a volume market for low-power wireless technologies in the future and is an area that IMS Research expects ZigBee technology to have significant uptake in, providing future opportunities for Silicon Labs.