Wireless dealmaking has remained a fairly bright spot during the recession, according to an overview of venture investment and M&A in the industry released today by Rutberg & Co. The boutique investment bank focuses on digital media and wireless deals, and says it’s seen the dollar amount of deals in the wireless industry fall to $1.2 billion, a 43 percent drop from the first half of 2008. The number of deals, meanwhile, fell 31 percent, to 121. The most active investors in the space? Qualcomm (s qcom) and Intel (s intc).
Qualcomm is defending its mobile turf against Intel’s encroachment, and strategic investments appear to be a weapon both are deploying in an attempt to get an edge. Intel is placing bets on applications such as SoonR and Sense Networks, but is also betting on WiMAX semiconductors as well as a programmable radio for mobile television based on an x86 platform. Qualcomm isn’t placing chip bets, as it has plenty of radio technology on hand already. Rather it’s investing in applications that already use its chips, in an attempt to gin up sales of them. Examples include Zeebo, a gaming console, and Modu, a slim phone with multiple jackets — the mobile phone equivalent of the interchangeable bands for Swatch watches from the 80s. So if you have a mobile app or technology and are looking for VC investment, this may be a feud from which you can benefit.