Thursday, February 13, 2014

Chill, people! PrimeSense is still open for business.

A rumor that Apple had acquired PrimeSense (the developer of the technology found in the original Kinect), which had been making the rounds for months, was finally publicly confirmed in late November, less than three months ago.

Immediately following that announcement, a wave of angst regarding the availability of Kinect-like technology passed through the tech community, and anyone with a stake in that availability scrambled to find alternatives, if they hadn't already begun that search based upon rumor alone.

Apparently the general presumption is, as is often the case when a larger company (like Apple) swallows a smaller one, that PrimeSense's ongoing business would be limited to the fulfillment of existing contracts, while all assets not needed for that would be busily assimilated into and repurposed for the needs of the mothership. After all, this is what happened to PA Semi, a few years ago.

That would be a reasonable expectation, except that, to judge by its website, PrimeSense is still very much in business.

Sure, their product roadmap is likely to have been altered as a result of the acquisition, and Apple is likely to reserve the newest, hottest technology for their own use, until it's no longer the newest and hottest, but they'd be fools to shut down a revenue stream they can basically get for free, since whatever they develop for their own needs is sure to find a persistent, ready market, if made generally available as parts.

Apple would, of course, be keen to secure the advantage of being able to differentiate their products from those of their competitors, so any company in the computer, smartphone, or tablet business, or any other business Apple is about to enter, would probably find the selection limited to technology that's no longer cutting edge, and others will likely find that Apple's contract stipulates OEM use only, with a prohibition on component resale.

That would be a problem for the hobbyist market and businesses that serve it, but Apple could mitigate this by allowing small-lot retail resale.

Additionally, allowing PrimeSense to engage in wholesale distribution of older component designs could provide Apple with an outlet for disposing of any component overstock that wasn't thoroughly specific to their own products. They might even discover a nice revenue stream in the sale of their SOCs and other chips, like the M7, for use in microcontrollers.

So, while it's nice to have options, and I can't blame anyone for looking for alternatives, don't forget that PrimeSense is there, since they may still turn out to be your best option.

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