HTC has acquired Dashwire Inc. in a deal that many are saying will be a useful tool in future patent litigation.
Seattle-based Dashwire specializes in the Dashworks 'managed cloud service', essentially a mobile platform which assists messaging, document sync, photo sharing and other mobile tasks which utilize the cloud-based storage model.
HTC says the deal will be valuable to strengthen its own cloud-based mobile offerings. In a field crowded with other Android OS devices, HTC is thought to be looking to develop a more differentiated brand via unique services and interface design -- or even, as some rumors attest, to be considering an entirely separate mobile operating system of its own.
While an official mention has not yet been made of the deal price, most estimates agree that $18.5 million is the likely maximum for all of Dashwire's shares.
Analysts are nearly unanimous in ascribing the deal to HTC's current and future patent battles, most obviously with Apple. In April, well-known patent troll Intellectual Ventures announced that Dashwire had "become a customer of IV and has acquired patents to use for defensive purposes". Intellectual Ventures boasts a portfolio of over 30,000 patents -- including many directly involving smartphone technology -- and has been recently so active in asserting them that some have used the term "mafia" to describe the company's patent strategy.
Joey Cheng, HTC's director of investor relations, would not comment on patent-related lines of questioning except to say that the company will continue to invest heavily in research and design as well as patents.
The deal comes only a month after HTC acquired VIA Technologies' shares in S3 Graphics for $300 million, which made HTC the majority shareholder for graphics card manufacturer. On July 1st, the International Trade Commission ruled that Apple was in violation of two S3 patents in its computers, but not in its mobile devices -- which may indicate that S3's patents are less useful to HTC than assumed.
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