Apple And Imagination Announce Renewed Graphics Partnership Years After Bitter Breakup

Apple iPhone
In a short statement posted to its website, Imagination Technologies on Thursday announced it has entered into a new multi-year license agreement with Apple, which at one time was the company's biggest customer before a high-profile breakup two years ago sent its stock spiraling downward, ultimately leading to a sale.

Call it a savvy business move or just plain savage, but from the outside looking in, Apple appears to be the clear winner in this deal. We can't say for sure because terms of the agreement have not been specified. However, we do know that Apple continued to thrive after ending its relationship with Imagination Technologies in 2017, while Imagine Technologies floundered in the wake of losing a lucrative customer.

"Imagination Technologies ('Imagination') announces that it has replaced the multi-year, multi-use license agreement with Apple, first announced on February 6, 2014, with a new multi-year license agreement under which Apple has access to a wider range of Imagination’s intellectual property in exchange for license fees," is all Imagination Technologies said on the current matter.

The relationship between Apple and Imagination soured in mid-2017 when Apple seemingly decided to cut ties with the company and build its own mobile GPUs for use in its iPhone and iPad devices. On the surface, this was to be a 15-month to 2-year phase-out period. it was a big deal, because Apple had been tapping Imagination Technologies for its GPUs dating back to when the iPod was still relevant.

Imagination Technologies scoffed at Apple's intention to design its own mobile GPUs, and rejected Apple's assertion that this would be possible without infringing on the company's patents and other intellectual property. Apple stood firm, however, and Imagination Technologies saw its share price plummet nearly 70 percent.

In the aftermath of all this, Imagination Technologies sought a buyout, and both Apple and Intel popped up as names that might be interested in acquiring the firm. Ultimately, it was a Chinese equity firm (Canyon Bridge) that acquired Imagination Technologies in November 17 for £550 million (~$725.5 million in US currency), a fraction of what the company had been worth at its high point several years prior.

Apple played the long game, and for this agreement to happen, we suspect it hammered out more favorable licensing terms than what Imagination Technologies was willing to agree with two years ago. Either that, or Apple anticipated a challenging patent litigation lawsuit. Our guess is on the former.