US giant buys Israeli company for Internet of Things tech

With its acquisition of Red Bend, Harman is buying the biggest remote update technology company in the world

A Samsung Galaxy S III smartphone equipped with Red Bend's 'dual-persona' operating systems (photo credit: Courtesy)
A Samsung Galaxy S III smartphone equipped with Red Bend's 'dual-persona' operating systems (photo credit: Courtesy)

Red Bend, an Israeli company responsible for nearly three-quarters of the wireless software updates for cell phones around the world, is being acquired by entertainment technology giant Harman, both companies said Thursday.

The deal is valued at $170 million, including approximately $99 million in stock and $71 million in cash.

In a statement, Harman said that it was buying Red Bend in order to use its OTA — over-the-air — updating technology “to meet the rising demands of the connected car. By bringing Red Bend under the Harman umbrella and driving broad industry usage, Harman’s combined technology portfolio will seamlessly enable safe, secure OTA updates for a variety of on-board Harman and non-Harman automotive systems — whether embedded or downloaded — speeding the pace of innovation to automakers and the industry.”

If Harman was looking for remote update technology, it has come to the right place. Red Bend, established in 1999, has become the “go to” provider of FOTA (Firmware Over the Air) updates for phones and devices made by manufacturers such as Kyocera, LG Electronics, Motorola, Sharp, Sony Ericsson and ZTE, among many others.

Red Bend’s technology is used by more than 80 mobile device manufacturers, mobile operators and semiconductor vendors, and is installed on more than 2 billion devices.

Using Red Bend’s technology, said company product marketing director Roger Ordman, service providers and manufacturers can keep their customers’ devices up to date with the latest firmware. “As devices have become more sophisticated, we have expanded our offerings,” he said in a recent interview. “Now we also do application management and mobile virtualization. It’s more than just configuring software: It’s managing the operating system on a device.”

Red Bend started out as an Israeli company, and currently has its largest R&D facility here. It has an additional facility in France, which it acquired when it bought French company VirtualLogix in 2010. And the company now has sales offices in the US, the UK, France, China, Japan, and Korea.

Now, as part of Harman, Red Bend’s OTA update technology will be used for a lot more than cell phones, and together with another acquisition announced Thursday — that of US company Symphony Teleca — Harman is ready for the Internet of Things era, claimed Dinesh C. Paliwal, the company chairman, president and CEO.

“This acquisition of Red Bend, a true pioneer in OTA and virtualization technologies for cyber security, adds a critical component to our automotive systems and services portfolio that will essentially future proof software in cars, ultimately making them safer, smarter and more efficient,” explained Paliwal.

“Together with our Symphony Teleca acquisition, Harman now has the essential foundation and deep bench strength for a comprehensive systems and services portfolio,” he added.

Yoram Salinger, the president and CEO of Red Bend, announced: “With over 15 years of success in delivering world-class over-the-air update solutions to the telecom and mobile markets, we are pleased to bring our proven track record to Harman.

“By joining forces with Harman, we will accelerate our growth in expanding markets, such as the connected car, while also continuing to support billions of mobile devices,” he continued.

“Beyond mobile, Red Bend and Harman will implement OTA software management to enhance infotainment and embedded system performance, as well as other in-car ECU-based systems. These solutions will benefit the entire automotive ecosystem through cost savings, increased security and a seamless customer experience,” added the CEO.

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