Particle Acquires Hardware Developer RedBear

Alasdair Allan
2 min readMar 27, 2018

These days pretty much every microcontroller board, or single-board computer, comes with a wireless radio or two, or three. But that wasn’t always the case, and making use of Bluetooth LE from the Arduino used to be a lot harder. One of the things that made it simpler, was a company called RedBearLab.

Founded back in 2012, it was RedBear that did a lot of the initial work around getting the Nordic Bluetooth chips up and running with the Arduino, and the Raspberry Pi. So the news today that Particle, the Internet of Things platform company, has acquired RedBear is rather intriguing.

The RedBearLab Blend board. (📷: Alasdair Allan)

The companies worked together on Particle’s new generation of mesh networking development boards, and today’s acquisition brings the team that created that platform in-house to Particle. It also gives the company a foothold in Hong Kong and Shenzhen, where RedBear’s former CEO Chi-Hung Ma will lead Particle’s new development team in China.

“This acquisition enables Particle to bring new products to market faster and scale to meet soaring demands for IoT connectivity, adding valuable expertise from the heart of the electronics industry in Shenzhen.”—Zach Supalla, Particle co-founder and CEO

The acquisition also means that the recent announcement of Particle’s third-generation boards won’t be their final foray into hardware, and it is suggestive that they’re expecting to pick up the pace of hardware development. My guess is that we can expect them to cover their bets in the low-data rate, long-range, protocol war and we can probably expect LoRaWAN and perhaps SigFox-compatible hardware to join their current lineup of IoT-focused hardware.

Unaddressed by this morning’s announcement was the fate of RedBear’s current product range, and software and firmware support for existing customers.

Update: Latest news from Particle is that they intend to continue support for RedBear’s existing products, “…we will continue to support RedBear’s flagship products throughout 2019 to help its loyal customers transition comfortably.”

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