France-based fabless chip supplier Inside Secure, though the end of 2011, was one of only two providers of NFC chips to handset makers, along with NXP Semiconductors.
Inside won a major contract to supply NFC chips to Research In Motion for RIM's NFC enabled BlackBerrys in 2011, resulting in shipments of more than 17 million chips for the year. The vendor announced a major design win with a leading smartphone maker for an NFC device to be introduced in mid-2012 on either the Windows Phone or Android platform.
Through early 2012, Inside has found itself locked out of the important market for NFC business with Android phone and tablet makers, which rival NXP Semiconductors has had sewn up.
Inside announced the deal with the major smartphone maker in February 2012, though declined to name the manufacturer or mobile platform, in an effort to drum up interest in its planned initial public offering, which Inside relaunched a day after the smartphone announcement. The vendor seeks to raise up to €79 million.
Inside in December of 2011 announced a nonexclusive agreement to supply NFC technology to giant chip maker Intel.
Until 2011, Inside made most its money from its dominant share of the market for chips for contactless bank cards in the U.S. and has shipped about 285 million contactless chips since 2006. It saw a downturn in these contactless bank card chip shipments in 2011. And in the fourth quarter of 2011, NFC chip business accounted for 52% of the vendor's revenue.
In April 2010, it was revealed Inside planned to buy the smart card chip business from U.S.-based Atmel Corp., giving it much greater reach in various markets, including contactless EMV cards, which require dual-interface chips. Atmel later said Inside would pay $32 million for the smart card chip unit, which had been shrinking in recent years. An additional $21 million was possible if the Atmel unit meets certain business targets in 2010 and 2011.
The chip supplier was also trying to turn up the heat on rival NXP, joining an initiative announced in January 2010 with No. 1 smart card chip maker Infineon Technologies, along with two smart card vendors, to offer an alternative to NXP's dominant Mifare technology for contactless transit cards as part of an "open" licensing scheme. Available by next year, it would be Inside's first foray into the transit-ticketing market. Inside in 2010 also said it would make its NFC middleware freely available for phone makers. The middleware works well with Inside MicroRead chips–although the vendor maintains the software also works with other NFC chips.
The company changed its name to Inside Secure in late 2010, as it continued to digest its purchase of Atmel Corp.’s smart card unit and sought to broaden its market share.
|In millions of US$ * Includes full-year revenue from Atmel smart card chip unit. ** Revenue was $51.5 million without Q4 Atmel unit revenue. *** First nine months of 2011.|
|Series A—Nov. 2005||Sofinnova, Gimv, Siparex, Vertex||9.6|
|Series B—Aug. 2006||Sofinnova, Gimv, Siparex, Vertex, Visa||18.3|
|Series C—Dec. 2008||Nokia, Motorola, Samsung, Qualcomm||31.7|
|Series D–Sept. 2010||Sofinnova, Gimv, FSI, Atmel, Vertex, Euro US Ventures, GGV, Qualcomm, Nokia, Samsung, Visa||50|
|In millions of euros|
470-plus (As of March 2013)