Could Apple acquire ARM?


— 4:12 PM on April 22, 2010

Apple quietly brought mobile chip development in-house over two years ago, culminating with the release of the Apple A4 system-on-a-chip inside the iPad. The A4 seems poised to make its way into other Apple products—perhaps the next-gen iPhone—but Apple might have bolder ambitions on top of that. According to the London Evening Standard, the rumor mill in the British capital points to a possible takeover of ARM by Apple.

ARM, of course, designed the actual processor technology Apple licensed to make the A4. The vast majority of phones and handhelds around today also feature system-on-a-chip devices based on ARM microprocessor tech, so giving Apple control over ARM could have very wide-ranging implications. One trader told the Evening Standard, "A deal would make a lot of sense for Apple. . . . That way, they could stop ARM's technology from ending up in everyone else's computers and gadgets."

This rumor seems to have enough weight to inflate ARM's shares, which reportedly "shot up" by 8.1 pence to 251.1 pence. (Headquartered in Cambridge, England, ARM is listed on the London Stock Exchange.) The Evening Standard says some traders believe ARM's share price could climb to 400 pence, which would peg the value of the company to £5.2 billion, or about $8 billion. Considering Apple posted a $3.07 billion net profit for the past quarter alone, an acquisition certainly doesn't seem unfeasible financially.

Perhaps this latest rumor also ties in with what we heard in February: that the former PA Semiconductor staffers who had concocted the A4 at Apple left to form their own startup. The departed include PA Semi's co-founder, Amarjit Gill.

   
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