As exciting as new handsets like the HTC Desire, HTC Legend, Dell Lightning and Thunder and even fourth generation iPhone are, there's one common link between them all: ARM. But for how long who knows?
The wild - but potentially industry changing - rumour doing the rounds today is that Apple is considering a wallet busting $8bn (£5.2bn) bid for the chip designer. Any deal would see it control the technology at the heart of all total's flagship smartphones including Qualcomm's Snapdragon, Nvidia's Tegra and Marvell's Armada along with architecture key to more than 40 licensees including Samsung, LG, Broadcom and Texas Instruments. ARM is also central to the emerging smartbook sector.
The move is fuelled by Apple's step into the chip business after its purchase of PA Semi in 2008 which it used to create the ARM-based Apple A4 processor at the heart of the iPad. Apple's mobile business is also now central to its future with this week's record busting Q2 financial results revealing 8.75m iPhones were sold during this quarter and now make up 40 per cent of the company's total revenue. Understandably it wants to strengthen its hold on this market.
Of course whether Apple would continue to play nice with fellow ARM licensees should it push through an agreement is questionable - history doesn't suggest so - and even if it did the power to cut off rival companies at any time would be worrying. Shares in ARM have leapt eight per cent on the news, though you'd have to think any formal bid would a) be closely monitored by international competition committees and b) face rival bids from the likes of Qualcomm and Samsung.
Personally I would rather ARM stay independent in all this. Its unique position ensures a common standard of software interoperability for mobile OS developers. Any change in this would likely see the mobile processor market fracture horribly which would certainly hurt take-up of Android, Windows Phone 7, Symbian and others - though it would open the door to Intel.
We'll keep you posted...
In related news Google has bought 'AgniLux', a start-up chip company (amusingly enough) founded by ex-Apple employees. No doubt Google is thinking along the same lines as Apple and is looking to enhance its own hardware influence and push both Android and Chrome OS into new sectors.