Apple (NSDQ: AAPL) has quietly bought a 3.6 percent stake in Hertfordshire-based Imagination Technologies for £3.19 million, a move that may be designed to give it more control over iPhone graphics hardware. Apple was already thought to be using technology from Imagination, which deals in intellectual property for digital radio, mobile and other system chips, under license, specifically Imagination’s PowerVR graphics chip; the announcement (RNS listing) confirmed the relationship and comes after the move of Mark Papermaster from IBM to head Apple’s iPod division, supposedly to work on new chipsets for iPhone and other devices, a move currently blocked by a court.
Imagination is the parent of the Pure DAB radio brand, which increasingly is moving in to internet-enabled radios, and powers 80 percent of the UK’s digital radios. Imagination has itself licensed the press-to-buy radio/online/mobile song retail technology Cliq, salvaged from UBC Media. But don’t bet on Apple taking over Imagination outright to launch a range of home music devices; Imagination exists specifically to license chipset IP to as many clients as possible.