Qualcomm Acquires Atheros, Sony Introduces Its Google TV, Memjet Spins Out Partnerships, & More San Diego BizTech News

1/10/11Follow @bvbigelow

Last week’s Consumer Electronics Show dominated San Diego’s tech news last week. We have the highlights from the two dozen San Diego tech companies that attended the annual conference, along with the rest of the local biztech news.

—In one more sign that Wi-Fi is becoming increasingly important to the future of wireless network infrastructure, San Diego’s Qualcomm (NASDAQ: QCOM) said it’s buying San Jose-based chipmaker Atheros Communications (NASDAQ: ATHR) for roughly $3.1 billion. The acquisition, if finalized, is Qualcomm’s biggest ever—and expands the wireless giant’s reach into products that span cellular, home, smart grid, and sensor networks.

—Motorola split into two new companies—Motorola Solutions, which will remain in Motorola’s headquarters in Schaumburg, IL, and Motorola Mobility, which is moving, for now, to nearby Libertyville, IL. There’s no word yet on whether Motorola Mobility, now headed by former Qualcomm COO Sanjay Jha, will move its HQ to San Diego, the Bay Area, or Austin, TX, the three cities Jha said the company was considering late last year.

—The annual Consumer Electronics Show regained its appeal as more than 140,000 attendees flooded the halls of the Las Vegas Convention Center last week. The hottest electronics categories this year included smart phones, tablets, and TVs, and we saw the world of software apps moving from complex suites such as Microsoft Office to simpler “best of breed” apps available online at places like the Apple App Store.

Sony Electronics, whose North American headquarters is in San Diego, led the charge in Web-enabled television with its lineup of sets powered by Google TV. As Mike Freeman reported in The San Diego Union-Tribune, Sony’s Google TV enables users to browse the full Web.

—San Diego-based Independa introduced its apps at CES. The two-year-old company is focused on developing innovations in IT and wireless technologies that will help the elderly continue to live independently in the comfort and familiarity of their own homes.

Memjet, the San Diego high-speed print technology company, also timed some announcements to coincide with CES. Memjet said it has a new partnership with Lenovo, which will introduce the world’s fastest color office printing technology in China. Memjet announced similar deals for India with WeP Peripherals and in Taiwan with Kpowerscience. Memjet hasn’t announced a partner for the U.S., but it says the printer will be sold here this year as well.

—DARPA, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, recently signed a $1.7 million contract with San Diego ultracapacitor maker Maxwell Technologies to develop a more efficient energy source for the U.S. military’s portable radios. Maxwell is leading a team that includes the U.S. Navy and the University of Massachusetts in an initial one-year project that could become an $8 million program intended to develop a lighter and longer-lasting energy supply for field radios and other portable electronic field equipment.

Initial public offerings and acquisitions surged toward the end of 2010, suggesting a recovery in such “liquidity events” from the capital crisis of 2008, according to a report from the National Venture Capital Association and Thomson Reuters.

—I profiled HowRandom, which co-founders Jon Cook and Jason Humphries created as an online forum that automatically-and randomly-pairs college students so they can chat one-on-one anonymously.

Bruce V. Bigelow is the editor of Xconomy San Diego. You can e-mail him at bbigelow@xconomy.com or call (619) 669-8788 Follow @bvbigelow