Apple To Surpass Intel As World’s Top Chipmaker
March 22, 2012

Apple To Surpass Intel As World’s Top Chipmaker

Apple is on pace to surpass Intel as the world's top mobile processor company if sales of smartphone and tablet devices continue to grow, InfoWorld reported on Tuesday, citing a forthcoming study by technology research firm In-Stat.

The move will likely take place before 2013, according to the study.

Apple shipped roughly 176 million mobile processors by the end of 2011, accounting for 13.5 percent of the market.  These figures trail Intel by just 5 million units, representing a difference of just 0.4 percent of market share.

"Apple's continued success of the iPhone and iPad, as well as the stronger growth rates of the smartphone and tablet markets than PCs" will help Apple overtake Intel, said In-Stat Chief Technology Strategist Jim McGregor.

The study counted the processors found in a variety of mobile devices, including the iPod touch, handheld gaming systems and e-readers.

Servers and desktop computers were not included in the figures.

Apple's ARM-based A-series processors are found in nearly every smartphone and tablet device sold today, while Intel has only just begun to introduce its Atom chips into the market.

Apple CEO Tim Cook said earlier this week that it was only a matter of time before the tablet market surpassed the PC market.

Indeed, shipments of smartphone and tablet devices are already outpacing those of servers and PCs, a gap McGregor said would continue to widen.

Cook pointed to data from research firm Gartner, which projected shipments of tablet devices to reach 325 million by 2015.

Apple´s current offerings consist of the A4, dual- and single-core A5 and A5X processors, all of which were designed by Apple and manufactured by Samsung.

"The more successful Apple is, the more credibility it adds to the entire ARM camp and the more competitive the ARM camp becomes as a whole," McGregor said.

Mac computers currently utilize Intel processors, and the two companies share a fragile relationship as both partners and rivals.   Apple's move to using its own technology in Macs could hurt Intel's processor shipments, McGregor said.

"Why do you think Intel is putting so much into ultrabooks? It is not only to compete against tablets, but to offer competition to Apple, which could switch to the company's own products eventually," McGregor said.

Nevertheless, the impact of Apple as a mobile processor maker will be significant as long as the iPad and iPhone shipments continue to accelerate, McGregor said.

"It will interesting to see how things play out over the next few years, but it will be the consumers that ultimately decide the fates of the companies and technologies involved.”