UK chip maker Imagination signs new licensing deal with Apple

Apple will be able to access the intellectual property of Imagination Technologies again less than three years after it split from the UK-based chip designer following the announcement of a new licensing deal.

In a short statement, Imagination said that it felt “resurgent” after signing the multi-year licence, which will enable Apple to dip into its tech portfolio in exchange for fees.

Apple had a similar agreement with Imagination before when the latter provided the GPUs for a number of successful mobile devices, including the iPhone and iPad.

Imagination was a key supplier but became increasingly reliant on Apple, which accounted for around 50% of the company’s revenue.

Apple made the decision to design its own chips three years ago, which eventually led to the rise of its Bionic chips, including the A11 that powered the iPhone 8 and iPhone X.

Imagination’s value plummeted after Apple ended its deal with only a few days’ notice, and the company was eventually purchased by Canyon Bridge for £550m in late 2017.

Apple did not disclose any details of the new deal, but the Hertfordshire-based Imagination was more forthcoming.

In a statement released on Thursday, a spokesperson said: “We can’t comment on today’s announcement, but I think it’s one of several things Imagination has to feel good about as we head into 2020.”

The latest deal comes just weeks after Imagination hailed the launch of its most important mobile GPU architecture for more than decade.

Apple had been discussing alternative commercial arrangements with Imagination after it severed ties and even considered a takeover similar to the one it completed with Intel’s smartphone modem enterprise.

However, the Financial Times said that it eventually decided against that option and now appears ready to forge a more direct partnership, with the licensing deal set to run for at least three years.

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