Intel's nightmare: Apple going ARM
News reports say the Mac maker is considering a move to the same chips used in the iPhone and iPad.
If a report from Bloomberg is correct, Apple (AAPL) is considering replacing the Intel (INTC) processors used in the Mac line with the same kind of ARM-based chips used in the iPhone and iPad.
If -- and I'll emphasize that we're still in the "if" stage now -- this happens, consider it a nightmare scenario for Intel over the long term.
First, let's explore whether this is even possible.
My inclination is to say that it is. While Intel has a lot more experience than Apple in designing processors, Apple's come a long way in a very short period of time.
Look at the iPad line. It's less than three years old, but the newest fourth-generation model delivers screaming performance and extended battery life on a 9.7-inch, 2048x1536 screen for just $500.
Think about how good these Apple processors will be in three to five years.
I bet they'll be more than fast enough to make Apple reconsider whether it makes sense to hand over 60%+ gross margins to Intel.
Furthermore, Apple would be able to run the same operating system across all devices -- PCs, tablets, smartphones, and whatever hasn't even been invented yet -- providing users with perfectly seamless transitions between different products.
Now let's talk Intel's side of the equation.
Keep in mind, I consider this to be a long-term risk for Intel -- something that could hit it three years from now at the absolute earliest, or not at all.
So Apple ain't a big deal, right? Wrong! In mid-2009, NPD released one of the most staggering statistics regarding the PC market I've ever seen: the fact that Apple controlled over 90% of the U.S. market for PCs over $1,000.
And keep in mind, Apple has gained significant market share since then with groundbreaking products like the Macbook Air. So its stranglehold on high-end PCs has gotten stronger, not weaker.
So what does this mean? Well, it's simple. Apple moves a lot of expensive Intel PC processors, and thus would be a terrible customer for Intel to lose.
Furthermore, think about Apple's influence within the gadget industry. What Apple does, everyone else copies. Google (GOOG) Android smartphones and tablets have mostly imitated the iPhone and iPad. Apple was also the first mainstream PC company to dump floppy drives, go all-LCD in displays, abandon legacy ports, and embrace built-in wi-fi. Everyone else followed along.
Heck, the supposed next big thing in Windows PCs -- the Ultrabook -- is simply a copy of Apple's revolutionary MacBook Air line, which debuted way back in 2008.
One other point: If Apple dumps Intel, expect competing PC makers to push Microsoft to get further into bed with ARM.
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Ya I think Intel will be ok.....
Also, if Apple switches to ARM, will this be like what happened when they moved to Intel from PowerPC? you will have to rebuy all of your applications when you upgrade? I know that apple did this before, but I find it hard to believe as a near term possibility. but, I have been wrong in the past.
and lets wait until all the apple fans, who have been busting on MSFT for removing a start button and RT users not able to run desktop apps on the ARM version of win8.
unless adobe is going to port all their apps to ARM in the near future, Mac users wont be very happy.
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Down for the short term, BHP Billiton, China Mobile, and McDonald's should have profitable futures.
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