Jobs’s passing and fear of stalled innovation prompt Apple to enter Israel, former exec says

News emerged earlier this week that Apple had acquired Israel-based fabless chip maker Anobit for as much as $500 million. Beyond the team and flash memory technology Apple will gain from the acquisition, the company reportedly plans to use the Anobit’s facilities as a research and development center. The deal is big for Apple on several levels — Anobit’s class-leading flash memory chips are already used in the iPhone, iPad and MacBook Air — but one former Apple executive believes fear was among the factors that motivated Apple to enter Israel, which is heralded by many as the “second Silicon Valley.” Read on for more.

“I think Apple is now entering Israel because of the loss of Jobs,” Eric Sirkin, a former senior director at Apple, told Israeli economic newspaper TheMarker in an interview. “Apple is afraid – it must be at the front of innovation. I believe that the company is now trying to inject innovation and Israel is part of the solution.”

Sirkin was with Apple for more than seven years in the nineties, having led a team within the company’s Macintosh unit. The executive managed the group responsible for creating FireWire technology as well as the Pippin, a low-cost computer designed to extend the Mac’s reach.

The former Apple director believes the company’s move into Israel is logical not only because of the country’s reputation as a technology hub, but also because the general mentality in the technology industry there is one that encourages innovation. “The Israeli mentality fits with Apple thinking outside the box,” Sirkin said.

Anobit designs flash memory solutions for smartphones, tablets and other devices, and the company currently has contracts with a number of leading firms including Samsung, Intel and Hynix. Anobit’s website says that its proprietary technology “significantly improves endurance, performance and cost of flash storage products and systems.”

TheMarker notes that Apple’s acquisition of Anobit closed last Friday, and the deal is valued at between $300 million and $400 million according to the paper’s sources. Israeli financial newspaper Calcalist reported earlier that Apple spent between $400 million and $500 to acquire the fabless chip maker.

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