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Apple Rumoured to be Planning $8bn ARM Bid

Gordon Kelly


Apple Rumoured to be Planning $8bn ARM Bid

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.


Via The Evening Standard


April 22, 2010, 6:11 pm

I think there is a million vs billion error in the first line. I hope this doesnt happen! Closed shop is completely the opposite of ARMs current business model.

snoop 7

April 22, 2010, 6:38 pm

.."whether Apple would continue to play nice with fellow ARM licensees should it push through an agreement is questionable - history doesn't suggest so.."

That for me is the crucial aspect. Licensing ARM architecture to the likes of Qualcomm, for example, has facilitated a major leap in low power, high spec mobile processors like Snapdragon which in turn has meant a relatively small but hugely innovative player like HTC has flourished.

Apple knows its strong market position is being challenged so naturally it wants to arrest the progress the likes of HTC are making. I just hope either Samsung or Qualcomm make a strong rival bid and that Apple's bid is blocked on competition grounds.


April 22, 2010, 6:39 pm

Wow Apple really are evil.

Surely there must be some kind of anti monopoly law that will come in to prevent this i can't imagine governments will let this go ahead, i mean how can the EU fine MS millions for including their own browser in there own software but not take action against a company who would do this.

I really do hope like you mentioned that international committees will step or at least put in a few rules apple would have to abide to in order to keep things fair because this wouldn't be a good thing for the industry.

Tim Sutton

April 22, 2010, 6:52 pm

This would be not be good news at all. ARM really needs to stay independent and impartial (and, incidentally, British) to keep the pace of progress up.

The most ardent Apple fan would concede that cutting edge speed and processing grunt are not Apple priorities.. a reined-in ARM working exclusively for Apple would be a real backwards step for the industry as a whole.


April 22, 2010, 7:32 pm

My instant reaction: "Oh f*** off Apple will you" for precisely the reasons Gordon gives.


April 22, 2010, 8:19 pm

Noooooo. Gotta keep hold of the tech in the UK. How else are we to pay off the national debt. Don't sell out. Why are UK companies so easy to buy. I bet that if someone e.g from China had infinite money and wanted to buy e.g. Intel. The US government would step in and say we are keeping the tech.


April 22, 2010, 8:30 pm

Makes you wonder why Intel haven't brought ARM. Perhaps they wouldn't ever get it through the competition commissions.

Less companies = less competition = slower progress = more expensive products

My knee-jerk reaction is that this needs to be stopped.


April 22, 2010, 8:43 pm

Quietly hoping ARM are sensible enough to 'tell them where to go'.


April 22, 2010, 8:58 pm

Oh dear, would this not Apple almost a monopoly like position over the ARM chips.

Not Good!

Oh how I miss the mid 80's and ACORN lol


April 22, 2010, 9:43 pm

Yet more crown jewels sold off? We're in danger of becoming a nation of shoppers.


April 22, 2010, 10:59 pm

Remember George Orwell 1984 - substitute Apple and get pervasive Apple surveillance, public mind control, and the voiding of citizens' rights. Welcome to OS5 for iPhone, the only choice you now have for a smart phone. And do remember that Apple bascially 'cloned' other companies ideas and then have the cheak to try and patent them as their own. Well I never ;)


April 22, 2010, 11:42 pm

This sounds like bad news for everyone except Apple. Fingers crossed it doesn't happen.


April 23, 2010, 12:05 pm

@most people, especially Kieran with his "Wow Apple really are evil" comment - This is pure, uneducated, wild speculation. The hate coming out over Apple about this totally unfounded rumor with no real basis in reality is pathetic.

"Damn it, Apple haven't done anything new this week to give me an excuse to lambast them on teh intertubes, lets make shit up and latch onto anything and assume that it's happening!"

There has never been a time where there wasn't a rumor around Apple buying another company, and although they buy plenty, I don't think the rumors have ever come to pass.


April 23, 2010, 2:20 pm

Cub: No. Speculation, yes, but IMO the concerns are anything but uneducated. But do feel free to educate us... Why do you think Apple want ARM if not to stifle the competition? And please explain how it will be GOOD for competition and for consumers if they do? Thanks.

Pendejo Sin Nombre

April 23, 2010, 3:40 pm


Firstly, how do you know they do and secondly explain why the motivation, if they do, would necessarily be any different to when they were one of the original founding partners in ARM.


April 23, 2010, 4:15 pm

@MrGodfrey - I think you misunderstand. I'm not saying it would be good if Apple did buy ARM. I'm not saying that anyone&#8217s concerns are uneducated, infact I didn't even say that, I said that the *speculation* is uneducated... Unfounded, based on myth, bound to no known earthly facts... "B*ll*cks" would be another apt word. We may all be concerned that space manatees from Venus are going to fly down to Earth and convert poodles into the dominant race of the planet leaving us humans as a slave nation... Doesn't mean it's worth speculating over, concerning our daily lives with the story, and assuming that there *are* space manatees on Venus.

Apple may want ARM for all we know, they may also want Nintendo as was very highly rumoured a year or two ago; maybe they do want to buy Adobe, Yahoo, AT&T or EA (they're a few of the companies that appear in the suggestion box if you type "Apple to buy" into Google), but they don't automatically become an evil company just because somebody starts saying "what if...?"


April 23, 2010, 5:59 pm

@Cub: Where does this affinity of yours to Apple Corporation stem from? Whenever theres any negative headline or comments following it your quick to shout them down and in some cases abuse those responsible for them. It's like a mother attacking anyone for calling their child ugly. You do realize that this love isn't mutual.

Smithfield Building

April 23, 2010, 6:30 pm

All those lambasting Apple on the basis of these rumours do realise they were one of the three companies who founded ARM, right?


April 23, 2010, 7:37 pm

Cub: I did indeed misunderstand, thinking you were referring to speculation over the implications of such a bid, rather than the possibility of said bid. My apologies.

The space manatees bit was a tad facetious though - AFAIK we have never been invaded by aliens. But large, successful tech companies engaging in uncompetitive practices - I'm pretty sure that's happened once or twice ;)

Incidentally, the lack of a specific source does not mean a rumour cannot be based on facts. If I were a conspiracy theorist, I might suspect that a company might leak information about its intentions in order to gauge the reaction...


April 23, 2010, 7:40 pm

@Smithfield "All those lambasting Apple on the basis of these rumours do realise they were one of the three companies who founded ARM, right?"

So what, the mobile world is much better off that they had to sell their stake!


April 23, 2010, 11:18 pm

@MrGodfrey - Apologies for the manatees, they had come up in conversation just 5 minutes prior to typing that, they stay in your mind, manatees...

From what I've read on other sites, it's just "people seem to think that Apple will buy ARM", as if it just came up in a forum somewhere and someone decided to roll with it because they hadn't produced an Apple story in couple of days. Anywho, the lack of a source would bring the validity of any claim into doubt, conspiracy serves no practical purpose...


April 24, 2010, 8:49 pm

Cub: Fair point. I will refrain from storming Apple HQ with my revolutionary army while the rumours are unverified. P.s. were those the same manatees that write for Family Guy?


April 26, 2010, 9:05 pm

Anti-trust regulators would never allow Apple to control a fundamental technology used by Apple's competitors. This is as naive as it's far-fetched. And Apple did not 'found ARM'. It invested in it. The technology was from the Cambridge outfit spin-off from Acorn.

Pendejo Sin Nombre

April 27, 2010, 3:02 pm

They did, along with VLSI and of course Acorn, with Apple and Acorn having equal holdings and the majority of the shares. Why you're disputing it, while seemingly making up your own definition of what being a founder means, I don't know.


April 30, 2010, 2:41 am

Knew I should have bought shares when i was thinking about it last year: http://www.google.co.uk/fin...

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