Rocked by the slumping PC sales, the semiconductor industry really doesn't need more bad news. However, reports indicate that Apple is making a surprising move that likely has some of its cell phone silicon partners reeling -- it is forming its own team design chips for its future iPods or iPhones.
In the past Apple has relied on partners, such as Infineon or Samsung Electronics Co., to design chips and chipsets for the iPhone. The partnership was lucrative for the chipmakers, but for Apple it represented frustrations as the company hoped for lower power consumption and better graphical abilities.
Apple has lured Raja Koduri away from Advanced Micro Devices graphics products group, where he was formerly chief technology officer. Apple had already snatched Bob Drebin, the previous CTO. In addition, Apple is filling dozens of hardware positions, the role of which it describes as "testing the functional correctness of Apple developed silicon."
Based on the site Linked-In, it appears that Apple now has over 100 engineers with extensive hardware experience. These engineers worked formerly at leading hardware firms, such as Intel Corp., Samsung and Qualcomm Inc. Apple is also advertising for a position designing chips that control displays, via the site Indeed.com. With major chipmaker Spansion on the verge of folding, Apple is looking to snatch up the soon-to-be-unemployed engineers. It participated in a special job fair for the employees facing impending layoffs.
Aside from possible improvements in quality and functionality, one perk Apple receives for designing its own chips is an increased secrecy. Apple has long loathed having shared its tech surprises with chipmakers, only to see them leak to the press via loose lips.
Apple Chief Executive Steve Jobs says that the acquisition of Silicon Valley start-up P.A. Semi was a key step towards Apple making its own iPod and iPhone chips. He states, "You can't just go out and buy the chips off the shelf to do that."
Sources at Apple indicate that the company believes that information shared with chipmakers like Samsung is being shared with its competitors. Samsung declined to comment on the allegations.
It is likely that Apple will continue using the ARM architecture for the iPhone, licensed from ARM Holdings PLC. Its chief aim with the new ARM chips will be better battery life and better graphical performance.
quote: The prices of Apple's products have dropped steadily over the years. For example, iPods once started at $250. It seems Apple is unable to lower prices further without building their own chips.
quote: Paying a bit more money is well worth it when everything is compatible
quote: There's a lot of choice outside of Apple's walled garden
quote: Paying more money on top of that when everything is even more compatible and very well integrated is worth it too (hint: I'm talking Apple model here)
quote: The Mac might have a tighter integration with it's software however
quote: Vertical monopolies benefit consumers.
quote: raise prices
quote: limit choices - bad thing for consumers
quote: Lie. Prices for iPods and iPhones have been only falling since their inception.
quote: iPods and iPhones are far from the lowest cost devices on the market
quote: That's a loss of choice
quote: They are far from the lowest quality (and/or functionality) devices on the market either.
quote: How does it harm the consumer if there's still a lot of choice outside of the Apple ecosystem?
quote: I was talking about AppStore verification system and you suddenly changed subject into a totally unrelated topic of "obscurity". Why?
quote: a person such as myself shopping for value
quote: It harms the consumer because choosing Apple becomes an all-or-nothing gamble
quote: I can't believe people put up with that. That's like a car manufacturer telling you that all car service MUST be done at an authorized dealership. It sucks.
quote: Apple should allow you to download apps from anywhere, period
quote: Otherwise iPods wouldn't capture the dominant market share and iPhone wouldn't become the best selling consumer smartphone.
quote: It doesn't harm consumer because Apple is not the only choice consumer can make
quote: That would be the same explanation that Windows PCs dominate the market compared to Apple PCs
quote: It's not like Apple comes right out and says that they are going to lock you in
quote: iPods once started at $250
quote: what the ION platform offers and why they would not take advantage of that
quote: The interesting thing is what the ION platform offers and why they would not take advantage of that.
quote: Blu-ray would be far more successful now if it wasn't for piracy...... Streaming services are also struggling because of piracy. That delays bandwidth increases and keeps internet access expensive.
quote: Microsoft's doesn't do anything to stop piracy because they profit from it and would lose their monopoly if they took action against it.
quote: Blu-ray would be far more successful now if it wasn't for piracy. Microsoft's doesn't do anything to stop piracy because they profit from it and would lose their monopoly if they took action against it.