SoftBank Group's (SFTBY) $31-billion purchase of ARM (ARMH) . Cisco Systems' (CSCO) $1.4-billion acquisition of Jasper Technologies. These are just a few of the mega-deals this year that underscore the huge role M&A is playing in the development of the Internet of Things as tech behemoths try to build scale, extend their offerings and diversify their revenues.
While just 12 major IoT acquisitions took place in 2010, the tally jumped to 81 in 2015, according to research firm Strategy Analytics. And industry analysts expect that number to continue growing.
Semiconductor companies have been a particularly active group of buyers. Intel (INTC) , for instance, paid $16.7 billion for its smaller peer Altera in 2015 primarily for the latter's footprint in IoT and data center end-markets. The chip giant has also sealed smaller acquisitions such as Computer Vision, Yogitech and Itseez this year in an effort to beef up its IoT offerings.
Cypress Semiconductor (CY) bought Broadcom's (AVGO) IoT business for $550 million in July to enter the fast-growing market, while Silicon Laboratories (SLAB) has also been writing checks for industry exposure, most recently buying Micrium for an undisclosed sum.
The capital-intensive and maturing semi industry in general has seen healthy levels of M&A as chipmakers pursue growth and revenue diversification. Cypress, Silicon Labs and Intel have all identified IoT among their next frontiers of growth.
"If you want to build connectivity reach and scale in multiple markets, and you don't want to go through a process of creating a million roaming agreements and work with a ton of alliances, it makes sense to get cash and buy," said Andy Brown, executive director of enterprise and IoT research at Strategy Analytics.
He added that acquiring companies are looking to offer more comprehensive services to existing or new customer sets.
Aside from chipmakers, software and services provider PTC (PTC) has been a notable participant in M&A. PTC has been working to boost its IoT presence to shift its focus away from the company's legacy product management and design software products. Among PTC's recent acquisitions are its $100 million purchase of Kepware and $105 million buy of ColdLight Solutions.
Elsewhere, software giant SAP (SAP) unveiled its plans to invest $2.2 billion in the Internet of Things by 2020, when it announced its acquisitions of IoT companies Plat.One and Fedem Technology earlier in October.
"In a lot of cases, [M&A] can happen organically," said Morningstar analyst Rodney Nelson, adding that the value of the Internet of Things hinges on how well organizations can generate and harness data, as well as build applications around that data.
As a result, data analytics companies such as Splunk (SPLK) could emerge as takeover targets for companies interested in beefing up their data offering (Splunk's peer Qlik Technologies was acquired by private equity firm Thoma Bravo for $3 billion back in June).
Telematics, or the use of wireless networks to track vehicle fleets, is an old-school branch of the Internet of Things that has been used for decades. The service has caught on with Verizon (VZ) , and the telecom giant is acquiring private company Telogis for an undisclosed sum and is paying $2.4 billion for Fleetmatics (FLTX) . The deals will augment Verizon's $612 million purchase of Hughes Telematics in 2012.
Helping secure the Internet of Things has generated deal activity as well. ARM acquired Sansa Security last year to boost security on its chips. Audio and connected car manufacturer Harman International Industries (HAR) bought automotive IoT security company TowerSec earlier this year. And BlackBerry (BBRY) picked up mobile communications security group Certicom for $106 million in 2009 and added mobile security company Secusmart in 2014.
Meanwhile, Salesforce.com (CRM) and Microsoft (MSFT) have been steadily making a big push into IoT, with industrial behemoths such as General Motors (GM) also making a run, according to Morningstar's Nelson.
Salesforce and Microsoft have largely been developing their IoT efforts in-house instead of turning to deal-making, however. GM, for its part, has been a more active buyer, as exemplified by its purchase of driving startup Cruise Automation, reportedly valued at about $1 billion, in March.
"I don't see [M&A] slowing down in the short term," said Strategy Analytics' Brown, arguing that companies will continue to turn to deal-making to gain scale, customers and strategic growth opportunities.