Sony is to acquire LTE chip company Altair Semiconductor for $212 million, citing potential in the IoT market.

Israel-based Altair offers LTE-only chips, which have been used in products such as MiFi devices, chromebooks and tablets. But it has also been working on IoT, including efforts with Korea Telecom and Verizon, focusing on areas such as low power consumption and long battery life.

The Japanese company said it aims “not to only expand Altair’s existing business, but also to move forward with research on and development of new sensing technologies”. By combining its sensing technologies such as for navigation and imaging with Altair’s modem offerings, it will “strive to develop a new breed of cellular-connected, sensing component devices”.

Reports late last year suggested that Sony was looking at a move into the smartphone processor space, although it was not immediately clear how an entry into an already competitive market would benefit the company – especially as its own smartphone volumes have dipped.

But it does have a strong business selling components to smartphone makers (especially in the camera module department), and focusing on the potentially massive, but nascent, IoT market may prove the more logical step.

“With the markets for wearable and IoT devices expected to continue to expand, Sony aims to deliver component devices that feature both sensing and communication capabilities, as well as new LTE solutions that leverage the strengths of these component devices,” it observed.

The deal is expected to close early in February.