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Qualcomm Starts 2011 With Large Acquisition

The tech world was atwitter this week over announcements from Qualcomm. The buzz has a lot to do with more and more devices incorporating wireless technology.

The company made its first big splash this week by announcing it will pay more than $3 billion for Atheros, which specializes in wired and wireless networks. It will be the largest acquisition in Qualcomm’s 25-year history.

Some analysts have said buying the company shores up a weak spot in Wi-Fi technologies for Qualcomm.

Qualcomm also announced a plan invest $975 million to increase the Taiwan-based production of its low-energy Mirasol color displays for e-readers.

The Mirasol reflects light to make images; most displays are backlit. That means it uses very little power and can be seen easily in outdoor light, unlike many other displays.

Now, the company is busy at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. In addition to the e-reader displays, Qualcomm is demonstrating uses of its wireless technology in devices ranging from tablet computers to blood-glucose meters.

But the company is doing more than showing off its new products. Several nonbinding partnerships to explore the use of wireless in powering devices were also announced this week.

The flurry of activity may seem disparate, but company representatives say they are all part of the same trend.

“It’s just amazing how rapidly these worlds have come together of consumer electronics, computing and wireless,” said Bill Davidson, Qualcomm’s senior vice president of global marketing. “And that convergence is really all about what we did with Atheros this week as well.”

A sign of just how quickly that convergence is happening is that this is only Qualcomm’s fourth year having a booth at the Consumer Electronics Show. Yet, some analysts have said connected devices provide the overarching theme of the event this year.

Partnerships with well-known companies like Duracell, are part of moving the company forward, said Davidson.

“(It is) beyond the core market of the chip-sets and technology, but still a pretty logical place for us to sit. We’re trying to look at how people use their wireless devices and what’s going to make that easier going forward.”