A recent report by Israeli publication Globes reveals that Samsung will acquire the imaging company Corephotonics, which is responsible for the development of dual camera solutions for smartphones, chief among is the folded optics powering dual cameras boasting periscope-type zoom technology. Although not a manufacturer of mobile cameras itself, Corephotonics has designed various imaging technologies for smartphones and claims it was the first to demonstrate dual cameras for mobile phones as early as 2014. As yet it’s unclear whether the deal with Samsung has been finalized, but according to sources cited by Globes, Samsung agreed to acquire the company for the sum of $155 million.
Since it was founded in 2012, Corephotonics managed to amass over $50 million from outside investors including Samsung Venture, which is one of the tech giant’s two main investment arms in Israel. Corephotonics' list of partners and investors is fairly substantial and includes various well-known brands in the mobile industry, including chipset manufacturers Qualcomm and MediaTek, along with Foxconn, AKM, Sunny Optical, and even OPPO to name a few. In fact, Corephotonics patented a unique lens and developed the Folded camera optics demonstrated by OPPO at Mobile World Congress 2017 in conjunction with the OPPO 5X.
Corephotonics claims a rich patent portfolio including over 150 patents. Some have been already granted while “dozens” have yet to be published, says the company. In November 2017 it was reported that Corephotonics filed a lawsuit against Apple, claiming that the tech giant has been using some of its patented camera technologies without permission for the development of the iPhone 7 Plus and iPhone 8 Plus.
No additional information regarding the matter can be found and as yet the status of the lawsuit is not clear. Regardless, following the acquisition by Samsung, it’s logical to assume that the Korean tech giant will have ownership of Corephotonics’ patented technologies, and it will be interesting to see if or how the alleged lawsuit will be affected by the deal. Samsung and Apple have been rivaling in the smartphone segment for nearly a decade, and countless lawsuits between the two tech giants have already been settled throughout this period of time.
Likewise, it will be worth seeing if the acquisition by Samsung will affect OPPO in any way. Assuming that the deal won’t change Corephotonics M.O. then, in theory, OPPO could continue to acquire camera technologies from the company moving forward. Only time will tell if and how Samsung will shape Corephotonics in the future, and to what extent Samsung will intervene in the company structure, but the idea that some of the mobile camera technologies developed by Corephotonics will end up in future Samsung smartphones is not outlandish given recent events.
This is unlikely to happen before the launch of the Samsung Galaxy S10 series due to obvious time constraints, but future devices like the upcoming Galaxy Note model could benefit from this acquisition. Additionally, Globes’ report mentions that Corephotonics was planning to step outside its comfort zone and enter additional market segments including automotive and security systems, and while it’s unclear whether this will be the case, Samsung and its subsidiaries have a fair degree of experience in both of these fields.