Back in April, longtime Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) supplier Imagination Technologies (NASDAQOTH:IGNMF) publicly disclosed that Apple will cease using Imagination's intellectual property within the next 15 to 24 months.
After this disclosure, Imagination's shares lost over half of their value -- an appropriate reaction, considering that Imagination relies on Apple for roughly half of its net revenue.
Following this disaster, Imagination announced to investors that it plans to sell its MIPS and Ensigma businesses in a bid to "concentrate its resources on PowerVR and strengthen Imagination's balance sheet."
Once Imagination unloads these businesses, it'll still have to face the grim reality that its anchor customer for its only remaining business is gone and probably isn't ever coming back.
Imagination will also have to face the bitter truth that only a relatively small portion of the smartphone applications processor total addressable market is open -- and that competition is still quite fierce.
I suspect, then, that once the company has rid itself of MIPS and Ensigma, it could be attractive to potential customers who might want to use Imagination Technologies' intellectual property and whatever talent hasn't jumped ship by then.
Here are two potential suitors that come to mind.
The chip giant
Microprocessor giant Intel (NASDAQ:INTC) could potentially make use of Imagination's technology. Intel has its own in-house graphics efforts, and its graphics technology is found in many, if not most, personal computers that are sold today.
However, Intel's graphics technology, though it has gotten better with time, still isn't great. When Intel tried its hand in the smartphone and tablet applications processor markets, it only used its own graphics technology in higher-power tablet chips. Even in tablets, Intel's graphics performance was mediocre at best.
Indeed, Intel's internal graphics technology was so woefully inadequate that it used Imagination's graphics technology in almost all the smartphone processors that it brought to market -- with ARM Holdings' Mali graphics intellectual property being used in the ill-fated SoFIA chips.
I don't think Intel would buy Imagination with the intention of swapping out its own graphics technology for Imagination's, but I wouldn't be too surprised to see Intel pick up Imagination for its patents, technology, and talent to bolster its own efforts.
In other words, it would be like Intel's acquisition of processor maker Soft Machines.
Fellow IP vendor
Another potential buyer could be fellow semiconductor intellectual property vendor CEVA (NASDAQ:CEVA). On CEVA's homepage, the company says that it develops "ultra-low power [intellectual property] for vision, deep learning, audio, communication, and connectivity."
It's not a stretch, then, to see CEVA buy Imagination Technologies to add graphics to its portfolio. Graphics processors could complement CEVA's imaging and computer vision offerings, as well as its deep learning offerings, especially since graphics processor technology is proving to be quite popular in deep learning/artificial intelligence.
What's even more interesting is that CEVA once tried to buy MIPS Technology, but it was outbid by Imagination Technologies. Perhaps CEVA might be interested in the entirety of Imagination Technologies -- or at least the PowerVR graphics and MIPS processor businesses.