* Buys 6.3 pct stake with option to raise stake to 14.8 pct
* Confirms Himax as "key supplier" to Google Glass- analyst
* Himax shares up 33 pct
By Sruthi Ramakrishnan
July 22 Google Inc took another step
toward a commercial version of its Google Glass eyewear by
acquiring a small stake in a unit of Taiwanese chipmaker Himax
Technologies Inc that develops tiny displays.
Himax's shares were up a third to $6.86 on the Nasdaq.
Google will take a 6.3 percent stake in Himax Display Inc
(HDI) and has an option to raise its stake to 14.8 percent
within a year, Himax said in a statement without disclosing the
Google confirmed the deal in an email to Reuters and said
Himax Display Inc had been its partner for several years.
Himax said the investment would help fund production of
liquid crystal on silicon (LCoS) chips and modules, tiny devices
used to project images inside head-mounted devices such as
Google Glass as well as head-up displays and pico-projectors.
As competition moves from smartphones and tablets to
wearable technology, Google is pushing its eyewear as rivals
Apple and Samsung Electronics Co work on
devices to be worn like a wristwatch.
Described by Google CEO Larry Page as vital to the company's
future, Google Glass incorporates a stamp-sized display mounted
on the left side of a pair of eyeglass frames that can record
video, access messages and retrieve information from the Web.
The project has caught on. Developers, such as those at eBay
Inc, have already started working on potential apps,
while venture capital firms have teamed up to provide funding
for startups working with Google Glass.
Google, which has unveiled its own apps for Glass, has
distributed the device to a limited set of early users and
developers, and expects to make it available "more widely" later
Jay Srivatsa, managing director of equity research at
Chardan Capital Markets, said the investment by Google endorsed
Himax's capabilities in LCoS displays and confirmed the
Taiwanese company as a "key supplier" to Google Glass.
Srivatsa, rated three out of five by StarMine for the
accuracy of his Himax earnings forecasts, estimated Google's
investment in the unit to be in the range of $20 million to $40
Google will join Intel's Intel Capital Corp, Khosla
Ventures I LP and KPCB Holdings as a shareholder in Himax's HDI
The transaction is expected to close in the current quarter,