STMicroelectronics Sees Booster Technology as Way to Become Competitive in NFC Wearables, Smartphone Markets

NFC Times Exclusive Insight – Chip maker STMicroelectronics is hoping its $77.8 million-plus acquisition of the NFC assets of Austria-based ams AG will help it accelerate its move into the Internet of Things market, especially for wearables.

ST is also hoping to get design wins for its NFC technology with smartphone manufacturers–a market it has largely been shut out of. Ams provided the booster chip for Apple’s first NFC-enabled iPhones, the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus, which Apple used to launch Apple Pay in October of 2014. The booster was connected to the NFC chip from NXP Semiconductors and helped to meet Apple’s demanding requirements for Apple Pay, including technology that would produce a strong and consistent signal with a small and oddly shaped antenna to assist in coupling with contactless point-of-sale terminals, even if users don’t hold the phone exactly right. 

But Apple switched to a booster chip from NXP to go along with NXP’s NFC chips for the following generation of iPhones, the iPhone 6s and 6s Plus, sending revenues sharply down in ams’ NFC and RFID chip unit in the second half of 2015, the company reported, though ams does not break out sales for the unit. 

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