That whole ‘iPhone idea’ just got a bit more serious….
Hitting the news at the moment: Apple has acquired P.A. Semi for about $278 million. Why is this interesting? Because P.A. Semi make embeddable microprocessors. So: target devices = mobile computers = iPhone/iPod Touch. What makes this even more revealing is that everyman+dog thought that Apple would jump to Intel’s Atom processor for next-gen ‘Mobile OSX’ devices. By purchasing P.A. Semi, Apple no longer would need to rely on Intel for mobile processors, and would not have to make the OS architecture jump from ARM to X86. This is no small thing for Apple’s long-term roadmap, as the purchase gives Apple the freedom to update and design the chips when and how they want, rather than waiting for Intel to come up with an update to their processor line. Plus this falls directly into Apple’s ‘Vertical Integration’: Control/design the chips that power your devices that run your OS.
While this news is good (as a signifier that Apple is deadly serious about the mobile space), fruits from this venture will not show up this year. P.A’s chips will not be in the next iPhone. Nor the iPod Touch. This is part of a strategy that spans out over the next few years, to have the most powerful and advanced mobile devices on the planet. It will also help to differentiate Apple’s devices from the expected glut of Atom-powered mobile devices which are getting ready en-mass to launch later this year. Is this the new ‘PowerPC vs Intel’ war? Only time will tell. But clearly you can see: The iPhone was no ‘G4 Cube’ style experiment, nor among the likes of AppleTV. The iPhone marks the next-level direction that Apple is going down, and they want ‘The head, the tail….. the whole damn thing’*
*= Quint. Jaws. A classic line…