Chip giant Intel didn't even see fit to issue a press release announcing its acquisition of Israeli location-based services (LBS) provider Telmap, but it's potentially quite significant. So we managed to get Telmap CEO Oren Nissim on the phone to tell us all about it.
In case you're not already familiar with Telmap, it provides location-specific services - primarily to phone operators - which enable the development of independent value-added navigation services, such as restaurant guides, local offers, etc. We've been talking to them for a while; here's our introductory piece, and here's Telmap's stated aim to be the main alternative to Google Maps.
Telmap was a private company, and thus the terms of the deal haven't been disclosed. We started by asking Nissim if he's make an exception for us, but no luck, so we asked if he had considered selling to any other companies. "There were some other discussions, but we've been in serious talks with Intel since Barcelona [MWC 2011]."
Intel isn't necessarily the most obvious acquirer of a company that specialises in offering services to mobile operators, but then again its desire to be a mobile player remains undiminished. So we asked how Telmap will fit into Intel, where it will remain a semi-autonomous subsidiary, with Nissim as CEO.
"LBS is a big part of mobile," said Nissim. "Outside of our core business of working with operators we have developed a back-end platform. Intel is growing a very big software and services division with acquisitions such as McAfee and Wind River. Telmap will be a big part of this and AppUp developers will be able to use our API."
So, in short, Intel is putting a lot into its AppUp app portal (which, frankly, has got off to a slow start), and wants to empower developers to make LBS apps for it. Nissim made it clear that Intel's work with third party developers will expand considerably with this acquisition.
Just as with the Wind River and McAfee acquisitions, the ROI on this one won't necessarily be obvious straight away. But Intel has seen that much of the power in the mobile world is held by third party developers. It's hard to sell devices if you don't have the apps. So while there may be a more obvious way in which the acquisition of Telmap leads Intel to sell more silicon in future, right now this seems to be about building its software and services ecosystem.
"The whole principle here is about expansion - we'll be doing a lot more with third party developers and operators," concluded Nissim. "AppUp is going to be one hell of a distributor."