Chips designed by ARM now feature in nearly every one of the 4bn mobile phones in use around the world. ARM designs are deployed in Apple iPhones and iPads.
Analyst Richard Holway of TechmarketView said. “I have no idea if there is any validity in (the rumours) but makes sense as Apple designed the main chip for the iPad inhouse and doesn’t want to see its technology used in other competing products.”
Why it makes sense:
1. ARM was originally founded in November 1990 as Advanced RISC Machines Ltd, a joint venture between Acorn Computers, Apple Computer and VLSI Technology.
2. There has been talk that Intel may make a move to acquire ARM. Does Apple want to be 100 per cent dependent on Intel?
3. Apple has been investing heavily in in-house chip expertise, usually based on ARM reference designs, eg. PA Semi.
4. Google is clearly also competing in the mobile space – many Android phones will use ARM chips. If Android is going to be the enemy, then surely Apple would benefit from making a few dollars on each competing handset sale.
5. Apple is designing its own processors, eg. the A4. Does it want its secrets falling into competitors hands?
Why it doesn’t?
1. It is expensive. Eight billion dollars is not small change.
2. What would the regulatory environment be?
3. Could Apple succeed in folding the company into its own corporate structure, or would it go for a wholly-owned subsidiary relationship (a la Filemaker), which may also see off some regulatory obstacles.