Apple’s opens up in Israel their first R&D Center outside the US

Apple Inc. acquired Israeli start-up Anobit Ltd. for $350-400 million. The deal comes as Apple is about to set up a processor development center in Israel.

Anobit has developed flash controllers for devices, which are reportedly already embedded in Apple’s iPads and iPhones.

The acquisition of Anobit is an unusual step by Apple, currently considered the world’s leading computing company. It has a market cap of $365 billion, and analysts expect it to report $140 billion revenue for 2011.

Apple does not make many acquisitions. It has $80 billion in cash, but its mergers and acquisitions pale compared with its computing peers. The company has little hardware operations, and its acquisitions in this field can be counted on the fingers of one hand.

Anobit’s relationship with Apple is indirect. In August, Anobit announced two cooperation agreements with South Korea’s Hynix Semiconductor Inc. and Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd. Hynix is the world’s largest supplier of flash memory processors, and is apparently responsible for the integration of Anobit’s solutions, which lower the flash memory costs for smartphones, digital cameras, and tablet computers, such as Apple’s iPhones and iPads. Anobit has never reported any collaboration with Apple.

The acquisition of Anobit will help Apple in the market for flash memory for PCs and mobile devices. Apple’s acquisition of Anobit’s intellectual property will undoubtedly give it a technological edge.

Apple’s Israeli development center will be the company’s first such center outside the US, and will reportedly be led by high-tech veteran Aharon Aharon.