Synaptics wants Apple back

Touchscreen chipmaker Synaptics wants to win back Apple as a customer after agreeing to buy the sole supplier of display driver chips for the iPhone.

Synaptics last supplied parts to Apple around eight years ago, and has announced that it is writing a cheque for $475 million for the remaining outstanding shares in Renesas Drivers, a unit of Japanese chipmaker Renesas .

“If Apple is to become a customer of Synaptics again we’re absolutely thrilled and happy and hope we can continue the strong relationship that it appears to have had with RSP,” Chief Executive Rick Bergman told media at a news conference in Tokyo. Rick Bergman. That rings an AMD bell.

Synaptics, which claims 70 percent of the touchpad market, wants to be back into the Apple supply chain after it was dropped as a supplier when the iPhone maker decided to move touch technology internally.

“Our better opportunities are really complementary technologies to what they do internally. And at this junction I don’t believe they do any driver chips internally so that would really be an opportunity for us,” Bergman said.

Apple demands its panel suppliers use display driver chips from the Renesas unit exclusively as using ones from several suppliers would lead to noticeable variations in the display.

Renesas posted revenue of about $650 million and cash flow of about $100 million for the year ended March.

With the acquisition, Synaptics is also aiming to integrate its touch technology with Renesas SP’s display drivers, senior vice president Kevin Barber said, which would both improve performance and lower costs.

Synaptics chips are used in the Samsung Galaxy S5 smartphones and Galaxy Note 3 phablets. It is expecting growth from smartphone fingerprint sensors, in which it claims 90 percent of the market after acquiring a company specialising in the technology last year.

Apple’s iPhone 5S uses a rival technology developed in-house after Apple bought biometrics outfit Advantec two years ago.

Apple had considered buying Renesas SP but did not go ahead with it.